America is aging. In 2000, 35 million Americans were over the age of 65. But by 2030, that number is projected to more than double to 71.5 million. This means that, just 15 years from now, nearly 20 percent of the country’s population will be older adults.
Currently, most people aged 65 and up either live alone or with a spouse, and the vast majority of them want to age in place. But what exactly does that mean—and, even more important, how can you make the strategy work for you?
What is Aging in Place?
Aging in place means that a person lives in the residence of his or her choice, for as long as possible, as he or she ages. Services and other forms of support are provided as the person’s needs change, with the goal being to maintain or even improve the quality of life.
What Are the Myths about Aging in Place?
One of the most common myths is that aging in place automatically fixes the challenges of older adults. To fix many challenges, an effective plan must be created. With aging in place, that will most likely include:
- The layout of your home
- Home upkeep
- Healthcare issues
- Transportation options
- Financial planning and budgeting
A good plan, at a minimum, covers these broad areas: personal, home, finances and healthcare.
Another myth: that aging in place means you’ll need to take care of all of your needs yourself. This is NOT true. Aging in place means that you will make a plan to have your needs met at home, getting the support you need to have them met. It’s a way to ensure quality of life with a sense of dignity by determining your needs, researching options and putting together a strategy.
What Strategies Will Help Me to Successfully Age in Place?
First, create a plan. Where do you need help? With transportation? With maintaining your landscaping? With finding a specialist for a healthcare issue?
Once you’ve identified your needs, also brainstorm a list of resources, whether it’s family and friends, community programs, hired help and the like. Can all of your needs be effectively met through available resources?
Take a look at your home. Is it already older-adult friendly, with easy accessibility? If not, what modifications would make it better for you? Brighter lights? Railings in the bathrooms? Moving the laundry room from the basement to the main floor? Does it make sense to stay in your current home or should you look for another home, perhaps one with only one story or in a community that offers more services for older adults?
How can technology help ease you into aging in place? You can find more information about medication optimization, remote patient monitoring, assistive technologies and more here. Talk to your doctor about what makes sense for you.