For many older adults, there’s no place like home. Making the decision to live at home as you age requires weighing several factors to determine if this is truly the right decision for you, your loved ones or caretakers. If this is a decision you are currently considering, you are not alone.
In a recent survey conducted by AARP, 3 out of 4 adults 50 and older said they preferred to stay in their homes and communities as they age. The survey also led to these findings:
- 76% said they would prefer to remain in their current residence
- 77% would like to live in their community as long as possible
- 59% anticipated they will be able to stay in their community
Could aging in place work for me?
Here are a few quick ways to tell if your existing home may be a perfect fit to age in place:
- You could make simple modifications for comfort and accessibility
- You want to use your extra rooms for family members or professionals to assist with care
- Aging in place is the best financial decision
- There are services available in your area for property upkeep, daily tasks, and medical care that fit within your budget
A Few Questions to Help You Decide
As you create a healthy aging plan, planning to remain in your home may be a large part of your plan. Here are a few questions to ask yourself or your loved ones to help decide if aging in place is the right decision:
Are personal care tasks like bathing, washing hair, or dressing becoming harder to do?
These are just a few of the daily tasks seniors need to keep in mind if they're considering aging in place independently. If these tasks are not a challenge, consider what you will need if they become a challenge. Is there a relative or friend that could help you if your health slightly declines? Or, will you need to hire a trained aide for a short time each day?
Can I keep up with household maintenance and chores?
Research shows most households spend close to 20 hours each week maintaining their home. Common household maintenance and chores like housecleaning, yard work, grocery shopping, or laundry may become harder to keep up with as we age. Create a plan for how these tasks will be maintained to prevent becoming overwhelmed. One approach may be to revise your budget to include cleaning and yard services you can hire. If you aren’t sure where to start, get suggestions from people you trust who use similar services.
Is aging in place a smart financial decision?
Create a budget for staying in your home and compare it to the cost of a senior community or care facility. Remember to include health care expenses, monthly bills and home maintenance costs where needed to give yourself a complete picture for comparison. If you have a trusted family member or family friend with great financial literacy, ask if they are willing to help you compare costs. Experts at the National Institute on Aging suggest checking with your bank about options for automated payments for recurring bills, like utilities, rent or mortgage.
Is my neighborhood senior-friendly or near my support system of family or friends?
Your lifestyle is a great determining factor for how you decide to settle in an area no matter the stage of your life. Living close to family and friends available to lend a helping hand or drop by is ideal. As you create a plan for aging in place, it’s important to research resources for older adults in your area in-case friends or family are no longer available. This could include your local senior center that hosts social activities or agencies with volunteers available to stop by or check in with you once a week.
Is my home modified to safely meet my needs for aging-in-place?
Check these areas in your home to see if you have the right modifications in place that will be helpful as you age:
- Is my bedroom on the first floor or near frequently used spaces in my home?
- Has my kitchen been adapted for potential mobility issues?
- Are your bathrooms equipped with grab bars, a non-slip mat, or transfer bench?
- Is lighting strategically placed throughout the home to create brighter rooms that are easier to navigate?
- Have I cleared clutter and slip or trip hazards from my walkways and steps to prevent the likelihood of a fall?
How to Prepare My Home to Age in Place
Once you’ve decided to remain in your own home for the later years of your life planning to organize your home to be more functional is essential. Getting organized has both physical and mental benefits to healthy aging. An organized home is linked to boosted mental clarity, lower stress levels, and lower risk of injury. Each of these benefits can extend quality of life now and in the long run.