Aging in Place

One of the current catch phrases is, “aging in place.”  But what does that mean and can you do it?  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably…” Of the 28.5 million households with an older adult, approximately 28% reported difficulty using some aspect of the house.  This is according to a US Census Bureau report. The need for older citizens to be able to live, safely without concern of fall-related injuries, in a home that provides functional design is what aging in place is about.  So can you age in your current home?

What is the floor plan of your home?  Do you have a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor? If you develop mobility issues this could be an issue.  How wide are your hallways?  Many homes that are still in use today were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. What do you do if you do not have these features?  You can look into adding on to the main floor of your home.  Check with zoning to make sure this is possible.  When building be sure to include features like walk-in showers with grab bars, nonskid floors and easy to operate door handles.

Another issue for those wanting to age in place is taking care of a home. How will you maintain the home and take care of lawn upkeep, painting and on-going repairs? These things in addition to being a challenge to manage, can cut into your retirement budget.

Another consideration for aging in place is what happens if you need skilled care.  With the pandemic staying in your home is even more attractive.  Home is where you feel safe. Skilled home health care can be difficult to find and expensive. The national average hourly cost for home care is about $23. per hour.  Do you have family nearby that can assist in any of these needs, from home maintenance to home care?  Would you like to move so that you are closer to family?  This might be an important conversation to have with adult children.  What do they feel suitable housing looks like for you?

Rather than retrofitting your current home now may be the time to find a home that is easy to maintain, with lower expenses and easy mobility. Consider 55 plus communities that can also provide opportunities for social interaction and amenities.  Another option to consider is life care communities that can provide care for you as your needs increase. Starting with just housing and going on to total care as needed.

Aging in place is desirable.  Keep an open mind as you explore the possibilities for the future and what it will look like for you!