When we start thinking about senior living options, either for ourselves or for our loved ones, one thing we look for is the “comforts of home.” But what if seniors can keep those comforts by staying in their homes, safely and comfortably, as they age … instead of uprooting and moving to a retirement home?
This idea is known as “aging in place,” and most seniors prefer it over moving to an assisted living environment. In fact, a recent study by the AARP found that 90% of people want to stay in their own homes as they age, with 82% of seniors preferring this option even when they begin to need everyday assistance or ongoing medical treatment. Even when you factor in minor remodeling projects or home health services, aging in place is still an affordable option.
Here are a few tips to make this a safe and viable option for senior living.
Plan Ahead: Declutter and Remodel
The house you’ve lived in forever can seem like a more dangerous place when seen through the eyes of someone with even minor mobility issues. Assess the home, honestly and in detail. Look for anything that could get in the way – loose rugs, slick outdoor paths, or protruding furniture legs, for instance. Younger people can recover from a stumble; but it gets harder to retain your balance as you age, so remove or secure anything that could be a trip hazard.
Bathrooms can be slippery, dangerous places. Install grab bars and make sure it’s easy to get in and out of the shower or tub. Shop around – grab bars don’t have to look like they came straight out of a hospital room; attractive, stylish options are out there. Remember that the best time to make these changes is before an accident makes them a necessity. Homes with stairs can also become challenging for seniors. If possible, try to keep (or move) all essentials like bedrooms and laundry rooms to the main floor of the house.
Adopt In-Home Tech
Sensors, monitors, and wearable technology are some of the best ways to keep seniors safe while living in their own homes and provide peace of mind for their family members and caregivers. Activity-based sensors are a discreet, non-intrusive way for remote caregivers to know everything’s fine at home. These sensors monitor movement and let a caregiver know by text message or e-mail whether or not an at-risk senior is going about their normal routine at home.
Wearable medical pendants and bracelets are a great way to guarantee that seniors have constant, reliable access to emergency services in the case of a fall or other medical incident. Some wearable tech can automatically detect a fall and call both 911 and pre-programmed family members’ numbers. Do some research and compare features – some products work outside the home as well and provide GPS location information.
Other technology can help seniors live independently, too. Products like prescription medication dispensers can ensure that older people take the correct meds every day. Video phone calls like FaceTime and Skype can help caregivers quickly check in and make sure everything’s going okay at home and cheer up a loved one with (virtual) face-to-face interaction.
When a senior needs daily assistance or medical care, hiring an aide is an option. Professional in-home aides can come as often or as little as necessary. Aides can help with household cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, meals, and even personal care like bathing and getting dressed. When more intensive medical needs arise, trained in-home nurses can make home visits.
Aging in place can provide seniors with a sense of independence, security, and social well-being. There is comfort in staying put and being surrounded by what you know, from the house itself, to your neighbors, and even the grocery store down the street. As long as seniors have support from family and caregivers, and maybe some modern technology, aging in place can be an affordable, appealing option for senior living.