If you or your loved one is considering aging in place, the best advice is this: Be honest and be prepared. A candid assessment of health (both physical and mental) and unique needs helps you determine if aging in place is truly the right choice.
If it is, the next step is to prepare a detailed plan for how you will handle each aspect of this lifestyle.
Below is a checklist of the three most important things to discuss when considering aging in place.
As we grow older, there are certain unavoidable health changes—for example, decreases in mobility and muscle strength, impaired hearing and vision and increased risk of falls—which must be taken into account when contemplating aging in place.
Over time, you’ll need to take measures to reduce common hazards associated with cooking, entering and exiting the bathtub, and getting in and out of bed. Identify the necessary home modifications, both minor (such as removing rugs and replacing light bulbs) and major (such as air conditioning and heating units and ventilation systems).
You may want to look into community resources that offer fall prevention programs. The Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing offers Tai Chi as well as balance and strength training programs designed to reduce seniors’ risk of falling.
Making friends can be difficult at any age. Should you or your loved one choose to remain at home, it’s important to line up regular social events and activities.
Seniors who live alone are especially vulnerable to feeling isolated, which can have a negative impact on mental health. But getting out and having fun with peers can help keep you active, positive and feeling great.
Probably the most important thing when considering aging at home is understanding that, even though you’re independent today, it’s likely you’ll eventually require additional care. To successfully age in place, you’ll need to ensure you have access to various levels of care.
Generally, seniors need assistance with two types of tasks:
- Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): basic care such as bathing, grooming and dressing
- Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs): tasks to facilitate independence such as shopping, managing finances and providing transportation
Make sure the care plan you select covers services that help you with both ADLs and IADLs.
Ultimately, the goal of aging in place is to enjoy your home and independence for your full retirement. But the only way you can make sure your plans come to fruition is through prior planning. By addressing your safety, social life and continued care, you can experience the best retirement has to offer.
Ready to get started planning the best retirement possible? Learn more about aging in place with our free guide, Aging in Place: A Popular Trend for a New Generation of Seniors.
(Originally published Sept. 14, 2016; last updated Jan. 6, 2019.)