The ultimate goal of aging in place is avoiding a move to an assisted living facility or a nursing home. For some people, it may mean staying in their current home or perhaps moving from a home with more than one level to a ranch-style home with one level, or to an apartment building with an elevator. It may mean shifting from a large and high-maintenance yard or home to something more manageable. According to US News & World Report in the article “Tips to Help You Age in Place,” some seniors are moving to “granny houses”—tiny houses located in the backyard of their adult children’s home—or micro-unit housing—small studio apartments in buildings with common living rooms and kitchens.
Which one is right for you? Here are a few things to consider:
Physical safety. If you can’t manage the stairs anymore or if there’s no bathroom on your bedroom level, perhaps you should consider changing your situation.
Neighborhood. Do you love your community? If you have access to your friends, family and good medical care, that’s a good reason to stay in the vicinity.
Support Network. If you were to need assistance for a short period of time or in an emergency, are there people near you who can check on you on a regular basis or arrive quickly in a life-threatening situation?
Cost of Living. Sometimes this factor overrides many others. If you can afford to live in your own home and cover all your expenses, then staying in your home is an option. Remember, as you age, you’ll need different services and not all will be covered by Medicare or Social Security. If you have a large yard, the time or cost of upkeep can add up if you are not able to do the work yourself.
Even if you’ve got all these factors covered, you may still need to make changes to your home to make it safer and more comfortable. For instance, if you can’t reach items in cabinets, then move anything you use to a lower cabinet. If arthritis has made reaching for things difficult, then install grab bars and floor treads to avoid falling in slippery bathrooms. If you have a sunken living room, then install a ramp with a handrail, so you can continue to use the room, but can enter and exit safely and easily.
Embrace technology, which makes keeping in touch with loved ones easy. Don’t be put off by the idea of a medical alert button, so help can be summoned quickly. Consider installing a video camera in a frequently-used area of your home, so a loved one can get a visual check on you every now and then.
You’ll need to make certain adaptations to age in place to ensure your safety. Finding the right balance of comfort, cost, support, and independence is important.
Reference: US News & World Report (April 27, 2018) “Tips to Help You Age in Place”