It’s only natural to want to grow older surrounded by the people and places you know. That’s why most adults — 90% over the age of 65, in fact — prefer aging in place. Thankfully, with the advance of technology, aging in place is possible now more than ever; although, it doesn’t come without some preparation.
As people age, there is an increased risk of serious injuries. It’s a truth we often don’t want to accept, but it’s a truth nonetheless. Rather than letting the thought dishearten you, take to heart the words of the great economist John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change.” — and modify your surroundings to suit your needs.
Home modifications come in many different shades and colors — your ultimate goal should be to modify your home in such a way that your living situation is made easier and safer. If you are preparing for someone else to age in place at your home, your goal should be to modify your home in such a way that is suits both your and their needs.
Falls are one of the greatest threats seniors face in their own home. To combat this threat, consider installing shower support and railings if you don’t currently have them. Stair lifts are also a good option for those who have trouble walking up and down stairs, but find it necessary to do so. Small fixes, such as clearing out hallways and making sure rugs aren’t loose can greatly decrease the chance of falling, thereby increasing the possibility of aging at home.
Other easy fixes include installing night lights, making sure all bulbs work and produce enough light without glare, and installing easy to use handles for all drawers and cupboards. Becoming aware of the obstacles you may face is key to finding the correct home modifications that will make aging in place both easier and safer.
As a homeowner that wants to age in place, it is critical to consider finances. According to Brian Sullivan, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “If you have no real financial wherewithal to fix a roof, fix the furnace, etc.— all the things you need to do if you own a home — you may possibly explore a reverse mortgage, or home equity conversion mortgage.”
In simple terms, a reverse mortgage in when the mortgage company pays you. At the end of your term of occupancy, the bank acquires your property. However, this option comes with some potentially catastrophic downfalls, so it’s absolutely essential to get housing counseling and financial advising before tapping into this equity option.
Mentally preparing for change is as important as physically preparing for it. If you’re moving into another home to age in place, or having someone move into yours to do the same, it’s essential to accept that this change will have some impact on your family.
It’s a good idea to have an open discussion with your family to share ideas on how to manage a caregiving situation. Talk about everything from decision making to daily routine changes — and make sure to include the entire family. While this may sound like a stressful situation, it’s important to keep a positive outlook. You may realize that aging in place opens up many opportunities to reconnect with your family and can actually be a very comfortable transition and welcoming change.
Preparing to age in place is a long process, but it’s well worth the time and effort invested. Starting to plan sooner rather later alleviates some of the pressure involved in having a successful age-friendly home. Though expenses may be steep, the alternative of spending large monthly sums on assisted living facilities or retirement homes can total up to much more. Keeping this in mind, aging in place is a preferred option, and has been widely supported in the US. All in all, aging in place is allows one to be close to what they know and love, and facilitates aging in a comfortable and happy manner.