Nearly 90% of seniors want to ‘age in place’ – that is, they want to continue to live in their own homes as they age. However, 1.4 million seniors are treated for accidents at home each year. There are therefore several safety measures that need to be put in place in order for seniors to be able to live independently at home. Sometimes it may not be appropriate to move to a new home, but rather make modifications to the person’s existing home. It is also important to factor in certain considerations to with lifestyle and emotional support.
Financial and emotional considerations
If people have lived in a home for a considerable amount of time, their circumstances are likely to be very different from the time when they bought the house. A large home originally set up for a family is not going to meet the needs of a senior living alone or with a loved one. Whether you are moving house or making improvements to your existing home, it is likely to be expensive and relatively stressful. Sometimes you will need to find ways of releasing equity, such as through a reverse mortgage, which is available to people over the age of 62. However, with nursing homes costing $250 a day on average in America, it is worth making the investment. What is more, many seniors cite the familiarity of their surroundings and the comfort that comes with living in their own home as the main reasons for wanting to stay put. If doing so is likely to keep them happy, and therefore healthy, for longer, then paying out for modifications to a home seems the best move.
Planning for aging in place
Family and friends have a crucial part to play when it comes to aging in place. Not only might this mean help in financing the modifications that would need to be put in place within a home, but also support with planning for it. The ideal scenario would be to start putting money aside regularly pre-retirement, in preparation for aging in place. Alternatively, some people rent out a room in order to help fund future modifications. Whatever people choose to do, having some sort of funding plan before hitting retirement is best.
The other extremely important role that family and friends play is providing regular support to their loved one. This could be in the form of running errands for them, doing household chores and helping to keep on top of bills and other financial matters. It is also important for seniors to be given the chance to socialize with others. Things like limited mobility, sleeping problems, loneliness and loss of a loved one make seniors more susceptible to depression. In this way, for aging in place to be a positive experience, making sure there are opportunities to get out and about or meet up with friends is vital.
Safety measures to put in place
Depending on the senior’s health, certain safety measures will need to be put in place within the home. With one in three Americans over 65 experience a fall each year, the most common safety measures involve clearing gangways and putting safety rails in the bathroom and other potentially slippery spaces. Ensuring that floors are even and stairs are clear of clutter is vitally important. Fire safety is also crucial: make sure the kitchen has an easily accessible, functioning fire extinguisher and a strong handrail and step for reaching above head height. Finally, make sure the bathroom has a non-slip surface on the bath, shower and main section of the floor, as well as supportive handrails.
Aging in place: Factor in the financial and emotional challenges
Aging in place provides the majority of seniors with their desired outcome: the chance to enjoy living independently. It is not often straightforward to arrange, though, often requiring careful planning and costing a lot. However, if appropriate consideration is given to the financial and emotional implications, as well as the day-to-day support required, aging in place can be a huge success for everyone involved.