A Guide to Aging in Community
As 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.
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.
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
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.
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.