The U.S. 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.”
While this may appear relatively straightforward, the realities, emotions and financial implications involved fall into a grey area — and doing the “right thing” can be a challenging journey.
Whether or not to age in place is a question we or our aging loved ones will inevitably have to face. There are potentially a host of specific physical and mental health factors to consider, many of which can be successfully managed in either situation.
The key is being objective and realistic enough to see your own or a loved one’s set of circumstances for what they are — and go from there.
The Upside of Aging in Place
Not surprisingly, a recent study by AARP found that 77 percent of adults over 50 want to remain in their homes for the long term. After all, they have friendships where they are, routines to which they’ve become accustomed, and they’re already familiar with their home’s particular features and amenities.
Another plus is that they don’t have to deal with the expense, stress and sweeping readjustments of the moving process itself.
As long as you or a loved one stay in relatively good health, aging in place seems like a smart choice.
The Downside of Aging in Place
As people get older, routine cleaning, yardwork and even simple upkeep tasks can become overwhelming. They may have mobility issues that make parts of their current home inaccessible or even unsafe.
Many have also accumulated a lifetime of personal items that will become a burden to themselves or their loved ones if they’re suddenly forced to move due to a health or financial crisis.
Additionally, depending upon where they live, access to home care and community services may be insufficient or simply too costly to sustain for an extended period of time.
Moving to a New Home or Modifying Your Existing Home?
No matter what ultimately happens, a lot of soul-searching and the ability to plan ahead as much as possible are critical moving forward.
For many, keeping things “as-is” won’t be a viable long-term option. In fact, a full third of those surveyed in the AARP study said they would need to modify a residence so that they or a loved one could continue to live there.
Remodeling an existing home is often a major undertaking. Making bathrooms, entrances and exits, laundry facilities and other home amenities safe and accessible can be tremendously expensive. It can also cause a lot of stress before, during and after the construction phase.
On the other hand, housing units and assisted living facilities built and designed for seniors already have these features in place, along with other senior-friendly resources, such as community dining, social activities, transportation and health care.
Perhaps a good first step is to think about the kinds of help you or a loved one might need in the near future — especially if living alone. And carefully weigh whether or not the possibilities and positive aspects of a new place— from meeting new people to getting around more easily — outweigh the inconveniences.
One thing most experts agree on is downsizing the number of possessions in the home. If you or a loved one decide to stay in the current home, fewer possessions mean fewer obstacles, easier to manage cleaning chores and less stuff to deal with should a move into a smaller space become necessary. The key here is to pace yourself and do a little bit at a time.
Explore All the Options
The practical considerations involved with aging in place vary widely. The more informed you are about all the different resources available, the better. The federal government’s website, Longtermcare.gov, is a good place to start.
Note that certain health-related needs might be covered by Medicare or other health insurance providers. Resources like Benefits.gov and BenefitsCheckUp® can help you find out about benefits you may not be aware of.
The U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator is another way to find out about services for older adults and their families. You can call them at (800) 677-1116 or visit https://eldercare.acl.gov.
Want more tips and advice? Check out us other blogs for city guides, decorating ideas and a wealth of other helpful, time-saving information.
Oh, and did you know Mayflower has a channel on Spotify? Move and groove to tunes that get you to your new place — and settled in — in style.