Tag Archives: Elderly Parents

Age in Place – Are You Prepared or Is There a “Rest Home” in Your Future?

Age in Place
Image by JacobLund@iStock

You are worried about what will happen to you as you get older.

You do not want to lose your independence.

Living somewhere else is not acceptable.  You love your home. 

It is your right to age on you own terms and in your own way

Everyone must plan for the future and how you will live as you approach your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond.  The decisions you make today can affect your health, comfort, and safety during those years.

Many people are making  the decision to “age in place.”

Age in Place

The CDC defines this as “the ability to live in your own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

At first glance, it seems like the ability to age in your home is simply a matter of keeping yourself healthy and active for as long as possible. That is an important piece of the puzzle, but not the only piece.

Choosing to age in place isn’t just about your home and your ability to remain active. It includes your connections and involvement with everything in your community.

Familiarity with your community/neighborhood gives you the confidence to move about and to engage with friends and neighbors.

I also allows for easy access to familiar health-enhancing resources like doctors (and other service providers), parks and walking trails, book club, and yoga class, etc. 

Risks of Isolation

The benefits of staying at home are important, but there is a downside.

A new study at Brigham Young University shows that prolonged loneliness and being socially isolated is the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. While friendships and meaningful relationships with others support our immune system, reduces our stress levels, and can actually reduce the risk of developing dementia.  

The author of the study and psychology professor, Tim Smith, said that the United States is facing a possible “loneliness epidemic,” revealing that more people live alone today than at any other time in recorded history.

The study’s co-author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, states that,

Loneliness should be considered a serious health issue. Just as one starts planning financially long before retirement, we should also consider our social resources in planning for retirement.”

 It is easier to work on preventing loneliness than trying to work your way out of it.

These social resources of the choice to age in place include planning how you will stay connected and involved in your community.

Do you have a family – siblings, adult children, and grandchildren – nearby? Do you have both long-term friendships and a way to meet and make new friends?

If not, you can consider a service like Silvernest that provide ways to meet like-minded people – in this case, to make a roommate match. Having someone living in your home with you helps to create a new friendship and provides a safety net should you need help.

Home Adaptations

Now (not later) is the best time to plan and execute changes to your home that will keep you safe and comfortable.

No one likes to look at things that scream, “You are getting older,” like ugly grab bars in the bathrooms. Thank goodness the design of these features has come a long, long way. When you are ready, take the time to shop around. You can find things that keep you safe and are also aesthetically pleasing.

You may find that it’s the little things that limit you – like kitchen utensils or the height of your toilet. These can be easily fixed. There are great alternatives that people of any age would enjoy.

If you aren’t already familiar with them, check out the universal design features of OXO kitchen products, or bathrooms from Kohler that are designed well without feeling old.

Projects, like leveling floors from room to room, living on a single level, and widening doorways, are all important adaptations, but they are also more costly. This is particularly true of homes in older, desirable neighborhoods.

Experts advise that if you plan to age in your home, make adjustments while you are working and have an income to support the costs. Also, the disruption caused by home improvements is easier to live with when you aren’t recovering from an accident or struggling with a health problem.  

Take an inventory of your home. Look for anything that seems annoying or limiting to you now – even in the slightest. This will only be exacerbated as you get older.

Technology for the Ages

If you have aging parents, stay on the lookout for the developments in technology that will help them stay connected and remain as independent as possible.

Apps are available for caregivers to keep you informed on their care and activities.

We live in a “sharing economy” that makes it possible to have almost anything delivered to the front door.

Ten years ago it would have been unimaginable to get into a stranger’s car or to have a roommate as you age, but companies like UberLyft and Silvernest have made it the norm – and these are services you will rely on more as you get older.

The world offers many advantages that early generations couldn’t have imagined as they aged.

The most important advantage you have right now is your planning window to age in place. 

With a bit of thought, you can make plans that support both your physical and mental health and keep your home the vibrant and safe place it is today.

This is an adaptation with permission of the original article published at Silvernest.com.

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