How to Know If Aging in Place Is Right for You

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by Ray Burow |

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In a recent AARP survey, three out of four Americans ages 50 and older said they’d prefer to age in their own homes and communities rather than somewhere else. Frankly, it’s a bit surprising the number isn’t higher.

While the majority of adults would like to live out their retirement at home, most aren’t confident they will. However, living in the same community would be the next best thing. The 2018 survey indicates that 77% of older adults want to live out retirement in their current neighborhood, but only 59% believe it’s possible, either in their own home or at a different location in the same community.

Perhaps those who believe it is impossible to age in place are realists. All of us would like to think that managing life at home on our own as aged individuals is possible. Unfortunately, with age, health concerns often arise.

Seniors who anticipate moving out of their homes and into new neighborhoods might see the handwriting on the wall. A senior adult living in a home with stairs or a full basement may begin to realize the difficulty of climbing the steps with arthritic knees, for instance.

For others, the upkeep of a large home can be too much. Most homes aren’t elder-friendly — they’re not constructed to accommodate aging residents.

Kudos to seniors who contemplate the future and have a plan. A plan ensures their wishes are granted, if possible. Those plans could be to age at home with assistance or move into a neighborhood facility.

Planning to age at home

Digging your heels in the carpet and refusing to move from your present home isn’t a good plan. Yet, this is the type of pushback adult children often receive from aging parents with health issues, such as dementia. It’s best to have a plan in place before getting to this stage in the game.

The following assessments can help you plan for yourself or a loved one:

  • Be honest. Making a plan for the future requires an honest and open approach to where you see yourself or a loved one in years to come. Personal health must be considered. Are you in good health or dealing with an illness that is likely to hinder your ability to care for yourself in the future? Have you been diagnosed with a debilitating illness? Are you presently mobile or losing the ability to get around very well? What about transportation? Can you still drive? Should you still drive? These are hard questions. Negative answers won’t necessarily negate aging at home, but be honest in your assessment.
  • What is the condition of your home? Could you live there indefinitely? Can you physically and financially maintain the house and property? Is it in good condition or in need of senior-friendly upgrades?
  • Do people you know, love, and trust feel positive about your ability to age in place?
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Even if your honest answers to the above questions were all positive, you still need a plan for the future. For instance, if you’re currently driving, you may not be able to do so down the road. Transportation could become an issue, as could physically maintaining the house and property. The hope is that you’ll remain in good health, but there are no guarantees, so a plan B is a good idea.

Loss of transportation

Several transportation options could prove helpful now and in the future, such as the companies Lyft and Uber. However, these are not good options if you or your loved one has mobility issues or cognitive decline. These companies strictly provide transportation. Drivers aren’t required to help a person in or out of the car or escort them beyond the curb of the destination. They aren’t trained health professionals.

Hire an assistant, such as a certified nursing assistant, through a health agency if health concerns warrant it. They may accompany you when a transportation company is solicited, or they might drive to a destination to assist you upon arrival.

Failing health

Have a plan if your health wanes in the future. Consider giving a trusted friend or family member power of attorney. Additionally, create a will to document your wishes. In addition to a legal last will and testament, have a living will to document advanced healthcare directives.

Medicare will not pay for a caregiver to live in your home, so consider purchasing long-term care insurance before you need it. It could ensure that care is provided in your own home when it becomes necessary.

Honesty is the best policy

The best advice for aging in place is to be honest with yourself and your loved ones, who want the best for your future. Answering hard questions honestly is the only way to live your best life as you age.

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Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.

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