As your loved one begins to age, important questions need to be addressed, and one of them is whether they are going to age in place (stay in their home) or move to a different location, such as an assisted living or a nursing home.
Sometimes these decisions can be difficult to make, particularly if your loved one does not want to leave their home, but their home simply is not safe enough for them to live in and poses significant health risks (such as narrow stairs, hard-to-reach counters, etc.).
Read on to learn more about aging in place, what it means, and factors that can help you make an informed decision.
Aging at Home: What Is Meant By Aging in Place?
Aging in place means that you stay in your own home as you get older. Many seniors do not want to be uprooted from a comfortable and familiar space and do not want to be placed in a setting such as an assisted facility or nursing home.
In many cases, staying at home can be a good idea for someone’s mental and emotional health, particularly if they’re attached to their home, but plans must be made well ahead of time, and the house must be thoroughly checked for safety issues before the final decision is made. The good news is, if the house is not initially safe, modifications can be made so that a senior can safely age in place and not leave their home.
Aging at Home: What Is the Most Important Aspect of Aging in Place?
The most important aspect of aging in place is making sure that three successful factors are in place to ensure your loved one’s mental and physical health. These are:
- The person
- The place
- The support network
More specifically, when you take a look at the person (your loved one), you need to evaluate their finances and if they are able to still handle them, their activities of daily living, their state of physical health and mobility, their state of mental health, and their social life and recreation.
When it comes to the place (their residence), you should be looking to see if any home modifications need to be made to make the home safe and if there are adequate community events nearby to help your loved one stay social.
For the support network, you want to ensure your loved one has a support network that includes more than just you and more family and friends involved. You also want to think about transportation. If your loved one can no longer drive, how will they get around? Also, you may want to ask your loved one if they are interested in any continuing education. This helps them stay social while also helping with memory and brain function.
Aging in Place at Home: What Precautions Should Be Made?
You should take a tour of your loved one’s home before they make the final decision, taking note of each room (as well as outside). It’s also a good idea to take note of their daily routine to make sure they can handle things such as taking their medication and making their meals.
Some modifications to consider, based on your loved one’s state of physical health and mobility, include:
- Installing lower-height countertops so they do not have to reach or use a step-stool
- Putting non-slip tread on stairs
- Adding more light switches throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of staircases
- Making sure there are handrails on both sides of stairwells
- Putting grab bars in the shower area
- Replacing the tub with a walk-in shower with a seated area
- Replacing doorknobs with levers
- Installing a stair lift so that there is no risk of your loved one falling on the stairs
- Installing wheelchair and handicap ramps if your loved one uses a wheelchair
- Using pull-out drawers instead of cabinets in the kitchen
- Buying an induction cooktop stove to reduce the chance of burn accidents
- Making sure all area rugs are tightly secured to the floor
You can also ask a contractor to do a walkthrough with you, and they can give you an opinion and, likely, a free estimate for other modification ideas.
Aging in Place: Why Is Aging in Place Important?
One of the main reasons aging in place is important is that it gives your loved one a sense of autonomy and independence. No one likes to feel like they have their freedom taken away, and aging in place allows them to feel comfortable and remain in their own space. It will enable your loved one to maintain routines as well. Aging in place is also cost-effective, even if you make moderate remodeling.
The average cost of a private room in a nursing room is upward of $75,000 per year. Even if your loved one needs an occasional caregiver when they’re aging in place, it will not be near that amount. So, you can secure the home and make it safe, aging at home is a good idea.
To learn more about mobility products and ways that you can modify a home so that your loved one can age in place successfully, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We want both caregivers and their loved ones to live their best lives possible.