Written for Homestead HOPE Foundation by Scott Morrison, Certified Senior Advisor and President, BrightStar Lifecare
As a professional servicing the elder population, I can tell you that the majority of the people I interact with truly want to stay in their home as opposed to relocating to a facility. The definition of Aging in Place is: the ability to live in one’s home, wherever that may be, for as long as confidently and comfortably possible. Data from the US Census Bureau shows that 70% of older adults in the US spend the remainder of their lives in the same place that they live at the age of 65.
A successful “Aging in Place” experience requires in depth planning centered around three general areas: Person, Place and Support Network. All three of these areas must be addressed or considered in planning. These areas overlap in many ways and one must have a measure of success in each area to age in place. For example, if I am age 75 and experience mobility problems and have a caregiver but cannot get in and out of the house safely or take a shower safely, then this is not “successful aging in place” and I may have to relocate out of my home.
Person: Personal healthcare records should be regularly updated and easily accessible. Regular exercise, healthy diet and updated immunizations will help with aging in place. One must have an overall review of existing finances in order to successfully plan. Retirement assets, debts and insurance such as social security, long term care insurance and disability are keys to a good plan. These reviews should be done with a reputable provider for security reasons. You must also plan for the day that you are not able to manage your own finances. Make certain that your will expresses your wishes and designate a power of attorney.
Place: Does your “home” meet your needs both physically and emotionally now and in the future? Are doorways wide enough for a possible wheelchair? Are your kitchen, laundry room and bathroom “accessible”? If you continue to live in a house, is it a one-level home or at least have the master on the main floor? For reasons mentioned previously, these issues should be addressed on average by age 65 for success with aging in place.
Support Network: One of the keys to a supportive network is to be active in your community. Volunteer at your house of worship, civic organizations and clubs. Participate in life enrichment centers, technology, learning tours or cruises and health / wellness seminars. Ensure that you have access to dependable transportation so that you do not become isolated. In addition, stay connected with family and friends. Have in-depth discussions about all of your options proactively with your family.
Although your actual plan will be much more detailed than this light treatise on the subject, addressing Person, Place and Support Network will lead to a more pleasant aging in place experience. If you have further questions, I can be reached at 678-646-5400, BrightStar Lifecare, North Georgia’s premier provider of private duty, medical and non-medical , in-home care.