According to the AARP, most Americans over the age of 50 would prefer to “age in place.” In numerous studies conducted by the association, those surveyed indicated their desire to remain in their homes through the end stage of life. 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.”
There is no shortage of vendors willing to help those who wish to age in place, including custom home builders and home-care providers with services designed to be delivered to your doorstep.
But what happens when “aging in place” isn’t the best option? Multi-story homes with stairs, or a lack of sufficient finances to support the kind of in-home care or renovations needed to maintain an “aging in place” lifestyle, are among the potential hindrances. There also are the safety factors associated with aging in place, including being targeted by scammers and thieves, or falling when home alone and not being able to summon help. Aging in place also can make for a lonely experience if easy access to transportation and social opportunities are not available.
Those who wish to age in place should ask themselves the following:
- Do I have a home that is easily remodeled to accommodate wheelchair accessibility or other mobility needs?
- Are there caregivers – friends and family or professional caregiver services – available in my area that will allow me to stay in my home once I am no longer independently able to do so? If I am using professional caregivers, do I have the income to afford the care?
- Is public transportation readily available for doctor’s appointments and other needs once I am no longer able to drive?
- Am I financial sound enough to continue to afford to pay for home maintenance needs, including occasional repairs and property taxes?
If you answered no to any of these questions, aging in place is not a practical plan. For those who fall into this category, there are options.
Senior living communities are a great alternative. Many senior living communities include both independent and assisted-living options. Some also include end-of-life care for residents. Another option is to downsize into a smaller patio home near a community center, an adult family home, or apartment complexes or condos designed for seniors and boomers.