If you’re investigating what lifestyle options exist for older adults — either for yourself, for you and your spouse, or for your parents — you’ll probably keep seeing the phrase “aging in place.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as “The ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level” — and it’s an increasingly popular choice.
In fact, according to AARP’s 2011 “Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices,” 90 percent of people 65 and up want to remain in their homes. How can you decide if this choice is right for you or for a loved one?
Take a Candid look at Your Home
There are several things to consider as you age. Stairs can become more challenging, for example, or elaborate landscaping may seem less appealing to maintain. Small changes like stronger lighting may be in order. Step 1 of your plan might be to decide whether or not your current home is suitable for aging in place, either as is or with modifications. If the answer is a clear and resounding “no,” then you’ll want to look for a home that is suitable.
Here is a checklist from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) you can use if you decide you’ll need to look for a more suitable home or if you want to remodel your current home to suit your aging in place needs.
Additionally, be sure to think about security. Is your home in a safe neighborhood? Would you feel more secure with a home alarm system?
Think About Your Transportation Needs — Now and in the Future
Can you (or your loved one) drive? If not, then it’s crucial you address how to get to and from medical appointments, the bank, the grocery store, church and other places that are part of your lifestyle. Do you live in an area that provides quality public transportation? Does that work for you? Or, if you’re looking for another home where you can age in place, what transportation services are provided in that community? If you live close to your grown children or grandchildren, how much assistance will they provide?
It’s also important to create a long-range plan. Even if you drive yourself now, will that necessarily be true in five years? Ten? The answer might very well be yes, but you’ll want to consider the range of possibilities.
To live a healthy independent lifestyle, it’s also key to stay socially engaged with the world around you, so make sure that you factor in trips to:
- Visit friends and family members
- Exercise, whether that means going to a gym, walking in the park, attending dance classes, swimming, golfing, or other physical activity
- The library, bridge club, lectures, shopping malls and/or other places that you enjoy
Think About Health and Wellness
A good percentage of people remain healthy, both physically and mentally, well into their 70s, 80s and 90s — and even beyond that. Do you (or your parents) fit into that category? If so, then aging in place is a logical choice to explore.
There is Extra Help for Increased Quality of Life
If you’re the one in the household who has maintained the lawn and/or garden, you may still find it pleasurable. Or, you may be ready to hand that task over to someone else. Explore what options exist to get help. What about home repairs? Housecleaning? Meal preparation?
There are many considerations that should be taken into account when exploring options for life after retirement. Evaluating your housing, transportation, health, and extra help options will ensure you make the right decision for you and your family.
Interested in learning more about aging in place? See how Kendal at Home’s unique program makes it possible with this flyer.