Deciding Whether and How to Age In Place

The best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully. – Eric Hoffer

While aging is a part of life, the experience presents different joys and challenges. Some things get easier with the wisdom that comes with age, but other aspects of life become harder. Deciding how to face these difficulties involves making lifestyle choices, hopefully at a time when the matter is practical without being urgent. Many older adults wonder where best to live out their golden years. One option is to “age in place.” This phrase has come to mean planning, preparing, and adapting a home to make it a safe, healthy place to reside.

What are the Alternatives?

Just as it sounds, aging in place implies that an older adult will choose to remain in an independent, private residence, whether it’s a long-term home or a relocation. In contrast, a vast assortment of living arrangements is available, including retirement communities and assisted living. These locations were developed and built with the likely needs of aging adults in mind, so they offer amenities to the residents. From meals to entertainment, health care to accessible design elements, these places provide services, structure and community.

Why Age In Place?

The benefits to aging in place include the comfort of home, the familiarity of a long-term community, proximity to friends, family, and other support systems built during a lifetime. Moving can be disorienting and particularly difficult for older adults whose resilience is impacted by physical and mental health issues. In addition, the cost of relocation as well as the ongoing fees associated with aging adult facilities and communities can be prohibitive for some people.

What Does it Take to Age in Place?

Aging in place requires some adaptation to the realities of growing old. Most homes will require some renovation, which can be as simple as installing grab bars in the bathroom and rearranging cupboards so that frequently used items are easier to reach. Other alterations can be more substantial like widening doors, adding ramps or installing a full bath on the ground floor to allow for single floor living. Furniture can be rearranged to be easier to move around with a walker or other assistive device. In addition to these space transformations, aging in place involves some planning for existing or eventual needs:

  • Finding alternative transportation when driving becomes unwise
  • Getting help around the home with basic housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, and shopping
  • Tending to health and hygiene needs as these become harder to manage

Finally, isolation can be a real challenge for older adults. In the event of an emergency, a plan should be in place to contact help. Regular interaction is important for mental and emotional health as well as providing a second set of eyes to make sure that everything is safe and comfortable.

According the AARP, 70% of Americans 50+ would prefer to age in place. It may not be for everyone, but this increasingly popular option is feasible with some planning and help. SmithLife Homecare provides many of the critical services that make aging in place both feasible and enjoyable for older adults in Montgomery County.  We begin our relationship with our clients with a thorough assessment of their specific situation and needs, and we can offer custom solutions to allow them to continue to live at home. Contact us today for information about our FREE in home safety assessment.