Aging in place means living in your own home for as long as possible using services, products, and conveniences which allow you to remain at home safely and independently. We inhabit a society where people are living longer and the vast majority of the aging population prefers to continue living in their homes for as long as they can be self-sufficient. Aging in place allows older adults to preserve their independence, as they can continue to live in their everyday neighbourhoods. They can fulfill their practical needs, such as shopping for food, clothing, and personal care items in their local communities and derive satisfaction in being able to handle these tasks autonomously.
Many older adults find solace in remaining close to their valued possessions. Seniors who have spent years collecting objects with high monetary or sentimental value may experience feelings of anger and resentment at the prospect of parting with or paring down the objects they attach importance to. Aging in place allows older adults to continue to enjoy what they appreciate, which may boost happiness and contribute to a sense of independence.
Aging in place allows many older adults to continue to live their lives as they have for many years. An article in The New York Times tells us that many older adults have an explicit need to maintain strong connections to their communities and their friends. Remaining in their communities allows older adults to make social interactions part of their daily lives. An active social life can help to prevent senile dementia, and keeping community connections and valued friendships can contribute to better overall health and higher quality of life.
For many older adults, aging in place makes it possible for lower monthly costs and reduced housing budgets. As an example, the U.S. Department of Housing reports that about 20 percent of adults over 65 own their homes and thus do not have to account for mortgage payments in their monthly budgets. Others may be eligible for home equity loans which increases the potential for many seniors to age in place.
Since some older adults may live in homes with one or more flights of stairs, limited bathroom access, narrow hallways, and countless other mobility hazards, it is important to assess a home’s safety levels and address key issues early on. Redesigning a kitchen and bathroom and adding simple items of adaptive equipment can help a senior to live at home for longer. Installing stair lifts and handrails can make a home more accessible, as can an effort to de-clutter both outside and inside the senior’s home.
In some parts of the United States, urban planners have modified entire communities with the aging population in mind. Some districts in New York City have implemented longer traffic signals and street crossings for older adults. The Archstone Foundation, whose resources are allocated to the emerging needs within the field of aging, has funded for a period of 20 years now initiatives to support aging in place. This includes a series of non-profit neighbourhood villages across California to allow older people to remain in their homes longer, receiving services through paid staff and volunteers. Seniors have access to everything from pet walking and grocery runs to a list of vetted workers. The goal of these programs is to increase older adults’ engagement in their communities while making independent living a reality for as long as possible.
Older adults who choose to age in place may need support in order to renovate their homes or complete a variety of daily tasks. Senior care specialists are trained to work with older adults to address concerns related to health and safety, transportation, proper nutrition, social outings and exercise, managing finances, and ongoing communication with family members, to name a few. Though many older adults may look to family or friends for support, senior care specialists have the expertise necessary to develop personalized and comprehensive care plans and improve the quality of life for older adults. According to aging services expert, Anne Tumlinson, we have to create aging-friendly systems and communities where older adults can easily tap into the support they need to live engaged and purposeful lives.