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A Guide to Aging in Community

senior women gatheringAs they get older and require help with everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning, many Americans move to an assisted living community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 800,000 people live in such senior care facilities. In more recent years, however, aging in community has become increasingly popular. This allows seniors to enjoy the social support of shared living without moving to a nursing home; instead, their surroundings provide the resources they need to stay in place. Find out how you can make this model work for you below.

Affordable Options for Aging in Community

It’s no surprise that aging in community is gaining popularity, as research shows that most seniors prefer staying in the comfort of their own home over moving to an assisted living space. One of the easiest ways to tap into this concept is to look into senior co-housing or roommate arrangements.If you are still in the house where you raised a family and the kids are gone, you likely have extra rooms that you don’t use. Why not get roommates?

There are multiple benefits to such an arrangement. Having on-site social support — a person you can simply talk to over a cup of tea or watch a movie with — is one advantage. Research has shown that one-third of seniors report feelings of loneliness and that those who experience isolation in their later years are more likely to develop depression. This can take a toll on mental and physical well-being and even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

There are also financial benefits to co-living. The rent money from a roommate can help cover mortgage payments, utilities, and home maintenance. Financial stability is reported as a primary concern for older Americans. Having to pay more for aging-related health issues, especially after retirement, is daunting for many. Aging in community mitigates such worries.

Useful Modifications for Your Shared Home

If you’re choosing aging in community over an assisted living facility, you will have to consider practical home improvements. Mobility and coordination tend to decline with age as the body loses muscle tone. Nursing homes are equipped to address residents’ decreased physical abilities by, for instance, installing handrails in corridors. However, you can take similar measures in your shared space.

The bathroom is a priority because it’s used regularly every day. Since high tub ledges can be difficult to get over, have a standing shower installed that you walk directly into. Add a seat and railing for stability; take a look at this bathroom renovations guide for more handy ideas, like adding slip-proof mats to prevent falls on wet floors and raising the height of the toilet seat since many seniors have problems sitting and standing.

A user-friendly kitchen is also important; this is actually the most-used room in your home during waking hours. Larger renovations could include moving the sink closer to the stove so you don’t have to lug heavy pots of water as far, for example. These kitchen renovations pointers are a great starting point, with suggestions such as installing a pullout pantry and rounding shelf and countertop edges.

Community Resources for Further Support

Aging in community isn’t just about the actual home you share with other seniors — it also requires input from the surrounding neighborhood. So-called “village model” programs establish spaces where older adults have the resources they need, from food shopping to pharmacies, at their fingertips. Villages also address social needs; for instance, they might have a local coordinator arrange group activities.

Whether you move to a co-living space, share your home with roommates, or find a village to join, aging in community will benefit you. Being surrounded by others fosters positive mental and physical health while the costs of shared living are cheaper than going it alone. Tap into the power of aging in community and you will make the most out of your golden years.

About The Author: Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.