What is Aging in Place?
Aging in place is when a person lives and ages in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able, as they age. This includes being able to have services, care or other support they might need over time as their needs change to help them maintain a well-rounded life, in the residence of their choice.
The goal of an older person (or anyone) wanting to age in place should be to maintain and/or improve their quality of life. In order to do that, you need to plan out your future years before it become urgent and life changing as well as making your choices and preferences clear to family and friends. A good plan focuses on your quality of life and ensures that your home, finances, care and other items are created as early as possible.
Aging Changes Everyone
No matter how fit we are and how much we take care of our bodies, eat right, exercise, and keep our minds well trained and souls happy with mindfulness and being grateful, aging changes us despite all this, which is why it’s important to consider and plan for the changes that will happen and what impacts these changes will have on our lives.
As we age, our bodies and capabilities change, including:
- Reduced vision
- Decreased muscle strength or endurance
- Reduced mental processing capabilities
- Increased risk of falls due to balance
- Increased risk of illness
- Reduced hearing
- Decreased mobility
These changes are inevitable, whether you get some of them at 50 or do not experience any until after you are in your 70’s. Planning for your future residence with these in mind means you will be better prepared to combat any challenges that may be thrown at you due to these changes that come with time.
Assessing Your Housing Options
Aging is a time of adaptation and change. Planning your future housing needs is an important part of ensuring that you continue to thrive as you get older. Of course, every older adult is different, so the senior housing choice that’s right for you may be totally different for someone else. The key to making the best choice is to match your housing with your lifestyle, health, and financial needs. This may mean modifying your own home to make it safer and more comfortable, or it could mean moving to a housing facility with more support and social options available onsite. It could even involve enrolling in a network of like-minded people to share specialized services, or moving to a retirement community, an apartment building where most tenants are over the age of 55, or even a nursing home.
Planning for the Future
Planning ahead is hard because you never know how your needs might change, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. The first step is to think about the kinds of help you might want in the near future. Maybe you live alone, so there is no one living in your home who is available to help you. Maybe you don’t need help right now, but you live with a spouse or family member who does. Everyone has a different situation.
Regardless of whether you have retired or not, putting the time in to building a plan will help keep you in control of your life and help you deal with issues you will encounter down the road and ease some of the burden your loved ones will experience.
For those caring for an elderly parent or loved one, it’s for you, too. You can be the most help by working with them to ensure their needs are met and wishes are respected. It also will help you provide the level of care that is right for them and show your respect to them by ensuring their dignity is kept intact and their needs are met.
What Support Can Help Me Stay at Home?
You can get almost any type of help you want in your home—often for a cost. You can get more information on many of the services listed here from the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging, the Minnesota Board on Aging, the Senior LinkAge Line, or the Gillespie Senior and Community Center.
Personal care. Is bathing, washing your hair, or dressing getting harder to do? Maybe a relative or friend could help. Or, you could hire a trained aide for a short time each day.
Household chores. Do you need help with chores like housecleaning, yard work, grocery shopping, or laundry? Some grocery stores and drug stores will take your order over the phone and bring the items to your home. There are cleaning and yard services you can hire. Some housekeepers will help with laundry.
Meals. Worried that you might not be eating nutritious meals or tired of eating alone? Sometimes you could share cooking with a friend or have a potluck dinner with a group of friends. Find out if meals are served at a nearby senior center or house of worship. Eating out may give you a chance to visit with others. Is it hard for you to get out? Ask someone to bring you a healthy meal a few times a week. Meal delivery programs bring hot meals into your home; some of these programs are free or low-cost.
Money management. Do you worry about paying bills late or not at all? Are health insurance forms confusing? Maybe you can get help with these tasks. Ask a trusted relative to lend a hand. Volunteers, financial counselors, or geriatric care managers can also help. Just make sure you get the referral from a trustworthy source. If you use a computer, you could pay your bills online. Check with your bank about this option. Some people have regular bills, like utilities and rent or mortgage, paid automatically from their checking account.
Be careful to avoid money scams. Never give your Social Security number, bank or credit card numbers, or other sensitive information to someone on the phone (unless you placed the call) or in response to an email. Always check all bills, including utility bills, for charges you do not recognize.
Even though you might not need it now, think about giving someone you trust permission to discuss your bills with creditors or your Social Security or Medicare benefits with those agencies. Learn more about legal and financial planning for older adults.
Health care. Do you forget to take your medicine? There are devices available to remind you when it is time for your next dose. Special pill boxes allow you or someone else to set out your pills for an entire week. Have you just gotten out of the hospital and still need nursing care at home for a short time? The hospital discharge planner can help you make arrangements, and Medicare might pay for a home health aide to come to your home.
If you can’t remember what the doctor told you to do, try to have someone go to your doctor visits with you. Ask them to write down everything you are supposed to do or, if you are by yourself, ask the doctor to put all recommendations in writing.
Professionals Who Can Help
There are many aging in place planning resources available to you in your community to assist with developing a solid plan – from Certified Aging in Place Specialists to financial planning assistance to long-term, multi-faceted care arrangements. These and other resources can be brought in to play to help you create a detailed, holistic approach to your aging in place needs.
The focus of your plan should be control; control of your environment, your care, your dignity, your comfort and your quality of life. The primary goal should be to create a plan that enables you to stay in your home as long as you are able, ensures your needs are met and supports your independence.
If you have questions, give me a call, I’m happy to help.
Craig Okins, Realtor, SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist)
612-615-5459 | firstname.lastname@example.org