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A Guide To Aging In Place At Home

A Guide To Aging In Place At Home

Medical Care Alert on Oct 17th 2022

Aging at home is preferred by both seniors and families. 

Here's how to prepare for it.

elderly woman with medical alert button in gardenAging in place refers to a person's deliberate choice to live as long as they can in the home of their choice with the comforts they value. As individuals get older, they can involve adding extra services to improve their living arrangements and preserve their quality of life. 

When to Start Planning For Aging In Place

Aging in place refers to the ability of a person to continue to live where they choose as they get older without sacrificing their standard of living. However, in an ideal world, ageing in place should focus on improving the person's quality of life wherever possible, not just maintaining it. 

Financial and economic strategies should be in place from your earliest working years onwards to enable you to live out your latter years as comfortably as feasible. 

However, aging in place refers to people who have reached retirement age and should affect everyone as early as feasible from the beginning of one's career. As a result, retirement plans should be made as early as feasible, starting in your younger years, and modified, amended, and altered as necessary to account for changing needs and circumstances. 

Challenges Of Aging In Place

Everyone ages and changes. Aging alters us despite all of our efforts to stay healthy, eat properly, exercise, keep our wits sharp, and keep our soul’s content by practicing gratitude and mindfulness

Realistically, we must prepare for some inescapable changes in our bodily, mental, and emotional states. They don't all have to be bad. For instance, some aging-related changes, like learning to be more tolerant and patient instead of impatient and harsh in our early years, can be quite advantageous. Our bodies and our mental abilities do change in an irreversible way, that much is certain. 

The following are some examples of the subtle and not-so-obvious changes: 

  • Poorer eyesight 
  • Reduced muscle mass and hence less strength 
  • Diminished endurance both physical and mental 
  • Higher risk of accidents due to bone fragility, and less balance while walking 
  • Reduced hearing capacity 
  • Diminished mobility and agility 
  • Decreased flexibility 

Preparing The Home For Aging In Place

With a modest budget, you can make some home modifications to accommodate new needs for aging in place in the current home.  Examples of safety tips for older people include:

  • Bathroom Modifications.  Simple safety modifications to a bathroom include grab bars, shower wand, shower chair, higher toilet, improved lighting and non-slip flooring strips.  
  • Kitchen Modifications.  The kitchen is the second most dangerous room in the home, following the bathroom. So kitchen safety for seniors is paramount for successful aging in place at home.  Stove alarms, lighting, cabinets and drawer pulls are all easy ways to make the kitchen safe.
  • Stairway Modifications.  Needless to say, stairs can be very dangerous for seniors.  Check railings, steps, carpet and best of all try to avoid using the stairs alone if possible.  

About The Author:

The infographic below was created by Be Independent Home Care which takes a further look into Aging in Place.

aging in place infographic for seniors

Aging in Place Advice for Seniors With Mobility Concerns

According to the World Bank, around 15% of the global population has some form of disability.

elderly man receiving assistance

While this encompasses people of all ages, a huge majority are seniors, who tend to develop mobility, vision, and other disabilities with each passing year. All of these individuals deserve a safe place to live, but most homes simply aren’t built for those with different abilities.

Keep reading for a few quick tips from Medical Care Alert on how to modify an existing property if you or an aging elderly loved one has disabilities.

Can The Home Be Altered?

It’s important to first evaluate your current property. Unfortunately, not all homes can be safely or affordably altered for your comfort and convenience. If you live in a historic home, for example, it might be too expensive to update. Furthermore, finding a new home isn’t always easy. Looking online is a great start, but the same tools and algorithms that allow websites to show you comparisons of several great properties immediately can be used by investors who are ready to pounce on something that just piqued your interest.

Historic homes aren’t the only potentially problematic type of property. Similarly, if you live in a two-story home and there’s no way to turn the bottom floor into a living space, then it might be time to sell. This is a daunting process, but one you can get through with the help of an experienced realtor.

For a head start on what to expect, you can use an online calculator to figure out how much your home might sell for. This will give you a better idea of the cash you’ll have in hand for a down payment and small modifications on a more user-friendly property.

Additions That Matter

When you’re thinking about mobility issues, the first thing that likely comes to mind is how to enter and exit the home. Fortunately, this is a relatively inexpensive upgrade, and you can install a wheelchair ramp with a few simple tools, lumber and deck boards from your local hardware store, and a few careful measurements. Check with your local codes department to find out if there are any restrictions or if they require special features, such as a certain width or incline degree.

Your next thought will likely turn to the bathtub. After all, hygiene remains crucial, and, as FirstLight Home Care asserts, simple hygiene tasks become more difficult for aging men and women. If your new or existing home does not have a walk-in shower, consider adding one of these before moving in. Do keep in mind that removing a bathtub is messy work, and whether you choose to do it yourself or have a professional, you don’t want the inconvenience of not having a place to bathe for days to weeks on end.

Other DIY projects for adapting your home for someone with special needs can be found on Porch.com.

Other small upgrades include:

● Replacing all of the bulbs with LED lights. Not only are these more energy-efficient, they can also be dimmed when needed and have a longer lifespan, meaning you or your loved one will be changing bulbs less often, potentially up to 12 years. Plus, they can keep the lights on low at night to reduce bumps in the dark.

● Replace door knobs. Door handles are easier to use than doorknobs, which is especially important for people with arthritis.

● Eliminate tripping hazards by carpeting. According to 101 Mobility, smooth, even carpeting is preferable over hard surfaces, thick rugs, and tiled floors with grout that can interfere with assistive devices.

● Monitor air quality. Pollution and fires (especially during summer months) can cause our air quality to decline rapidly. Indoor air quality monitors can help your aging loved one to know when they need to turn on an air purifier, and when it’s not safe to go outside.

You deserve to be safe and comfortable in the place you call home. The above advice is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are plenty of simple and often inexpensive ways to change your living space to accommodate your ever-changing needs, and if that doesn’t work out, find a home that allows you to live happily and healthily.