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All About Aging in Place: What Seniors Need to Consider

There are approximately 47 million seniors living throughout the United States. The American senior population is expected to grow substantially, as well. By 2060, there will be 95 million people over the age of 65 in the US alone. Thanks to advancements in modern medicine, the average life expectancy for Americans has increased from 68 to 78.6 years over the last half-century. But while that’s generally good news, it does create some complications for elderly individuals.

It’s a widely accepted fact that a substantial portion of seniors will require long-term care, but there are several ways to obtain that care. Although 83.5 percent of nursing home residents were aged 65 and older as of 2015-2016, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not the only options for elderly folks. 

According to AARP, a staggering 90 percent of seniors want to remain in their homes as they age. This option, known as aging in place, is becoming more popular throughout the nation. However, that scenario is possible only if seniors are able to make vital adjustments to their environment to ensure their continued safety and overall well-being. In order to make the right decision for you —and do so with plenty of time to plan ahead —here’s what you should know about aging in place.

What does “aging in place” mean?

Aging in place refers to a conscious and proactive decision to remain in one’s home for as long as possible. It involves identifying needs, be them physical, emotional, and social, that an individual might have over time and taking steps to address them by alleviating potential problems and prioritizing quality of life, all while allowing that person to stay in his or her domicile of choice.

It’s important to note that aging in place, like many other major decisions, can be more difficult in practice than in theory. Ultimately, you can’t fully know which issues you might face in the future. While you may not be experiencing mobility issues right now, that could change (very suddenly, in some cases) down the line. You’ll need to plan for a number of scenarios, which will not only make your life easier as you age, but will also ensure that if and when the unexpected should occur, you’ll still be able to stay in your home.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of aging in place?

Aside from fulfilling the desire many Americans have to remain in their homes for as long as they can, aging in place does come with a number of advantages. For one thing, the costs may represent less of a financial burden. Assisted living and nursing home residencies can be extremely expensive, making these options inaccessible for many seniors. Although in-home care services may be required in some cases, this is often a more affordable option.

That said, residents will undoubtedly need to invest some capital in their homes to make certain they can stay there for the long haul. Home modifications can add up, particularly if your house needs substantial work. However, aging in place design has come a long way in recent years, which means that seniors could end up adding quite a bit of value to their homesteads during the renovation process. 

Aging in place also allows homeowners to stay in a familiar and comfortable environment. Uprooting your life during your golden years isn’t an ideal scenario. Not only can it be distressing under the best of circumstances, but it can also be even more difficult for those struggling with cognitive disorders and memory loss. Depending on the scenario, aging in place can help to slow cognitive decline and promote regular socialization. Since loneliness is a huge concern for seniors, maintaining a sense of connection is vital. Seniors who choose to age in place may need to rely more heavily on technology, community programs, and hired services to maintain interactions with others, especially if they don’t have help from familial caregivers.

Admittedly, home maintenance and overall safety are two points that need to be carefully thought out before deciding to age in place. Many seniors opt to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home when the upkeep of their own houses becomes too much to handle. Providing you make adequate home modifications and redesign with safety in mind, aging in place can often help seniors to avoid dangerous scenarios. On the other hand, not having an entire staff at one’s disposal can make monitoring of accidents more difficult for seniors and their caregivers. 

The choice about whether to age in place really comes down to the individual’s needs, the modifications made in the home, and available access to support. With the aforementioned information in mind, you should be able to make the best decision for you in the years to come.