Aging in Place: What This Means for Your Loved Ones

Often, the best place for those over 50 to live is in their own home. In fact, surveys show that 76% of adults over the age of 50 wish to remain in their homes, signifying the popularity of aging in place in the United States. While remaining in your home well into your older years sounds ideal, it also requires planning and support. If your loved one has expressed that they wish to age in place, you need to consider the growing needs they may encounter as their health and independence decline. 

Let’s explore what aging in place involves and how finding a care provider can make this wish of your elderly loved ones a reality.

What Is Aging in Place?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aging in place is “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Essentially, it’s the idea that people can live out their later years at home, rather than moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home. With the emergence of personal care agencies, aging in place is a feasible option for many seniors, as care providers can help them with their increasing needs from the comfort of their homes.

Why Do Seniors Prefer to Age in Place?

Aging in place is an important part of living a meaningful life. Seniors prefer to age in place because it comes with the following benefits:

  • More independence: When seniors live in their homes, they don’t need to adhere to the rules of an assisted living community or nursing home. They can choose their daily activities, such as meal times and social engagements.
  • Stronger community connection: If a senior is attached to their community, they may want to remain in their home for as long as possible. Moving to a care facility makes it challenging to stay connected with old neighbors and friends, making the option to age in place more attractive to seniors who are involved in local happenings.
  • Less change: Getting old comes with all kinds of change, such as deteriorating health. Adapting to change can be difficult for many seniors, so living in their home allows them to have one less change to overcome.
  • Better mental health: While moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility may be necessary for some seniors, this life change can lead to loneliness and depression among elderly people. By keeping your loved one at home, they can continue to live a more meaningful life with a better sense of well-being and dignity.

Potential Barriers to Aging in Place

When your loved one expresses their desire to age in place, it’s important to take a realistic approach to this idea. While they might insist they’re fine alone at home, there are potential barriers to this living situation to consider:

  • Mobility: As your loved one ages, they may have more difficulty moving around their home. It’s important to consider how they might get down the stairs, reach for items, and get enough exercise.
  • Meal preparation: Maintaining proper nutrition at any age is important, but it’s especially essential for seniors who wish to prevent chronic disease and illness. As your loved one’s cooking abilities decline, you need to consider how they’re going to get the proper level of nutrition at home.
  • Medical concerns: If you noticed your loved one is forgetting to take their medication, they may need someone around to remind them. Likewise, you may need to enlist extra help if your loved one is experiencing diabetes, high blood pressure, or increased forgetfulness.
  • Safety issues: As your loved one ages, the odds of them experiencing a devastating fall at home increase. This is due to a decline in mobility and balance, as well as older bodies taking longer to heal. You want to ensure they can be safe living at home.

How Care Providers Make Aging in Place Possible

If you’re concerned about any of the barriers to this housing option for older people, know that there are ways to address each one. While there is a lot you can do to support your loved one at home, a skilled care provider can assist in many ways. This personal care professional is experienced in coming into seniors’ homes to assist them with daily living activities. These might include cooking your loved one’s meals, helping them remember to take their medications, doing daily wellness check-ins, accompanying them on neighborhood walks, and performing light housekeeping duties. Having someone come to your loved one’s home makes it possible for them to age in place gracefully.

3 Tips for Helping Your Parents Age in Place

These tips can help you create a more accommodating atmosphere for your parents from the comfort of their homes:

1. Find the Help They Need

As your parents age, you may take on the role of a caregiver. This means that you oversee their well-being, ensuring that they have a safe living environment. As a caregiver, you’re responsible for keeping track of their mental, physical, and emotional health. While this can be a daunting task, there are plenty of resources for you.

One exceptional resource is the help of a home care provider. This is a trained professional who can come into your parents’ home to assist them with daily living activities. They can visit several hours each day or provide 24/7 support, depending on your parents’ needs. Another resource is connecting with a community of personal care experts who can provide you with advice as you adjust to this major life change.

2. Prepare Their Living Space

Since the chance of falls significantly increases as people age, it’s crucial that you prepare your parents’ home for their later years in life. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Install a stair lift
  • Widen hallways and doorways
  • Hire a care provider to keep common spaces free of clutter
  • Move their bedroom to the ground floor
  • Move everyday items within easy reach
  • Install a shower seat and railing
  • Remove shag carpeting or flooring that is a tripping hazard
  • Install grab bars in common areas, like near the toilet or a staircase
  • Replace old light bulbs with LED lights for better visibility

3. Establish Open Communication

Aging in place for seniors may be the ideal option, but it comes with a lot of planning. That’s why it’s essential to have these conversations with your loved ones early. Your parents might be apprehensive about the idea of having a new person come into their home to provide such hands-on services. They may feel nervous about allowing a trained professional to help them with more private activities, like grooming, bathing, or toileting.

Bringing up this conversation now gives your parents time to think through this decision. It also gives them a chance to express any thoughts or concerns they may have about such an arrangement. When having this conversation, remind them that living at home may require some additional help. Let them know you support their goal to age in place but need to be realistic about what this might involve.

Need help figuring out how to start this conversation? Check out this article from CareProvide.