If you had the choice between living alone at home or with other people in senior housing, what would you choose?
According to the AARP’s 2018 Home and Community Preferences Survey, most people over 50 want to stay in their home, and their community, for as long as possible. But what do they need to do to make that a reality?
Aging in place is a term that’s thrown around a lot when talking about housing. The National Aging in Place Council defines it as “remaining in the home of your choice for as long as you would like as opposed to relocating to a nursing home or other medical facility.” Aging in place also means making plans so that you and/or your loved one can continue to live in the home safely, confidently, and successfully.
What to pay attention to (in no particular order):
- How would you/your loved one rate your/their health?
- Do you/your loved one need help with day to day activities (e.g., getting dressed, using the bathroom, etc.)
- How close is your home to your doctor’s office? The hospital? The pharmacy?
- At this time, can you/your loved one safely and comfortable move around in the home?
- Does your current home match the lifestyle you want? Do you still live in a four-bedroom family home despite living alone or with a roommate/spouse?
- What modifications might be needed down the road (e.g., ramps, grab bars)? Would you/your loved one be able to pay for major repairs (e.g., roof leaking)?
- How much would it cost to make the home safe/accessible?
- Do you/your loved one have access to reliable transportation (e.g., buses, taxis, Lift/Uber)?
- Are you/your loved one able to get transportation for social events, or only medical appointments?
- Do you feel isolated or like part of the community?
- Do you visit your local senior center?
- Is your current home close to family?
- How close is the nearest grocery store?
Aging in place isn’t set in stone and your plan can be updated at any time to accommodate new health issues or other concerns. Some baby boomers have started upgrading the accessibility in their home as soon they buy it so it can be their “forever home.” The National Aging in Place Council has an incredibly helpful planning guide, which you can find here.
What are the common upgrades made to age in place?
- Front door– how many steps stand between you and the front door? Is the entrance well-lit? Would you consider putting in a bar or ramp to make walking easier in the winter?
- Doorways– how wide are your doorways? Could they fit a walker or a wheelchair? (for reference, wheelchairs typically need a 36-inch doorway, while walkers typically require a 32-inch doorway)
- Bathrooms- It’s not uncommon to need grab bars, shower seats, or lowering the height of the toilet to help make showering easier.
- Eliminating multiple floors- downsizing to a ranch home or installing handrails
- Adding technology– using technology to automate chores (e.g., a Google Home, Ring doorbell, or Roomba)