The Definition of Aging in Place
The phrase “aging in place” can mean different things to different people. Often, the aging in place definition most think of is to live out your senior years in your home, only receiving a small amount of assistance when necessary.
The truth is that as we age, our bodies and capabilities begin to change. It’s important to consider these changes when planning for the future to ensure we’re enjoying the best quality of life possible. Many seniors will experience changes like:
- Worsening vision
- Reduced hearing
- Memory loss
- Decreased muscle strength which can lead to mobility or balance issues and falls
- Increased risk for illness and disease
- Chronic conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis
These physical changes will have an impact on your daily life, affecting how you are able to get around and maintain your home. For instance, mobility issues can make things like climbing stairs or running the vacuum more difficult. Changes in vision and hearing might make driving safely to appointments or the grocery store no longer feasible. Also, many seniors can find themselves somewhat socially isolated in their homes, especially if family or friends don’t live nearby.
Independent Senior Living: Planning Ahead is Key
Today, seniors have more options for successfully aging in place. The key to aging independently is to properly plan for your future. You need to decide how you want to spend your retirement years, what your healthcare choices are, plan for the assistance you may need, and determine your wishes for major life events. Plan how your needs will be met, now and in the future.
While it’s possible to make home renovations that allow for better aging in place, these modifications can be costly. Adding things like better lighting to deal with vision loss is an easy fix, but remodeling an entire bathroom to prevent injuries from falls, like installing a walk-in shower and handrails can get pricey. Also, the home needs to be easily accessible when mobility issues come into play. For instance, hallways will need to be wide enough for assistive devices like walkers or wheelchairs, or ramps may need to be added to replace stairs leading to the front door.
Many senior living communities offer a great way for seniors to age in place. Healthy, active seniors often realize the benefits of downsizing, and choose to move into an independent living apartment or garden home within a retirement community. These communities often offer differing levels of services and care, which residents can take full advantage of should their health needs change.
Senior living communities address more than just the physical health needs of the residents, too. Residents are always encouraged to stay socially active through a wide array of planned events and activities. Studies have shown that an active social life provides numerous health benefits, from reducing the risk for diseases and strengthening immune systems to extending life expectancy overall.
How you choose to age in place is ultimately your decision. However, it’s recommended to consider all your options and talk to your loved ones to ensure you’re making the best choice possible for your future.