Aging in place allows older adults to stay in their own homes or apartments until they die. While wanting to opt out of moving to a “retirement center” is common, they might be unable to stay home if they do not plan ahead. Obtaining long long-term care insurance, improving home safety and accessibility, and making decisions about in-home personal care are essential.
While it is not easy to predict future needs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) offer guides and tips to take some of the worries out of planning for aging in place.
According to the NIH, “One way to begin planning is to look at any illnesses, like diabetes or emphysema, that you or your spouse might have.”
First, talk with a doctor about how health problems could make it hard for a person to walk or take care of himself in the future. Also, let the doctor know that the plan is aging in place and that his support is appreciated.
At this point in the planning, create a list of questions and notes. One place to find answers to most aging-in-place questions go to the Area Agency on Aging (USAging) website. In addition to information, readers can find services and agencies in their area. Another helpful group is the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Create an Aging-in-Place Plan
According to Eldercare, the aging-in-place plan should include in-home care assistance since nearly two-thirds of Americans will need help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, walking, dressing, and toileting, at some point in their lives.
The Older Americans Act (OAA) programs provide services needed to allow individuals aged 60 and over to remain in their homes. These include in-home and community-based services through state, tribal, and local agencies.
Completing the Care Plan provided by the CDC is necessary for two reasons: It summarizes a person’s health conditions and current treatments and serves as a guide when interviewing in-home care providers. [Links for English and Español listed below.]
An aging-in-place plan should include a three-ring binder with recent notes from the doctor(s), home health nurse, and care provider. The notebook should include current medical conditions and information, medications, and treatment needed.
Home Adaptation and Modification
Everyone considering aging-in-place should determine if the house needs any modifications to make it accessible and safe. For example, are the doors wide enough for a walker or wheelchair? Is the kitchen accessible? Is the bathroom safe?
AARP answers those questions in its pdf “Is This Home Fit?” This packet starts with a checklist, followed by a room-by-room to-do list, and next are sheets for notes and lists. Additionally, two pages guide a person through talking to home improvement contractors and getting reference feedback.
However, finding a knowledgeable professional to make these changes could be difficult. Fortunately, USAging provides referrals for contractors experienced with these types of projects. This organization also offers information about agencies to help low-income seniors modify their homes at little or no cost.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CDC: For Caregivers, Family, and Friends
CDC: Complete Care Plan Form (English) pdf or (Español) pdf
NIH: Aging In Place: Growing Older At Home
Consumers Advocate: Best Long-Term Care Insurance of 2023
AARP: Buy Long-Term Care Insurance at the Right Age to Get the Best Value; by Adam Shell
AssistedLiving.org: 5 MUST-HAVE HOME MODIFICATIONS FOR SENIORS AGING IN PLACE
USAging: Eldercare Locator
USAging: Home Improvement Assistance
AARP: HomeFit Guide Worksheets pdf
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Unsplash+
First Inset Image Courtesy of the Area Agency on Aging
Second Inset Image by Mark Timberlake Courtesy of Unsplash
Third Inset Image by Alejandra Ezquerro Courtesy of Unsplash