What Does it Mean to “Age in Place?”
As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is,” and for many seniors, home is exactly where they’d like to remain as they grow older. Aging in place refers to a person’s decision to live and age in the residence of their choice for as long as they are able to.
Thanks to today’s senior care options and supportive at-home healthcare services, it’s easier than ever for seniors to safely age in place in the comfort and familiarity of their home. However, because everyone experiences aging differently, staying at home isn’t necessarily the best solution for some seniors. If your parent or senior loved one is considering aging in place, here are some important factors to consider when making this important decision.
Is Aging in Place Right for Your Loved One?
Before deciding to age in place, it’s important to think about the big picture. The aging process brings a number of natural physical, mental, and emotional changes that can make daily activities more challenging as time goes on.
Aging in place successfully means taking all these future changes into consideration and selecting the right living situation where a senior’s health, happiness, safety, and independence is maximized. A living option that addresses the challenges of home maintenance, transportation, and isolation can significantly add to your loved one’s overall quality of life as they grow older.
With these goals in mind, here are some questions to ask your parent or loved one when determining if aging in place is the right fit:
- Where do you envision spending your retirement years? Do you picture yourself living at home on your own, moving in with family, or perhaps an independent living residence within a senior living community?
- What are your current health care needs? What needs do you anticipate in the future? Talking to your doctor can give you more insight into what to expect and watch for as you get older.
- Will your home need to be modified to improve safety and accessibility if you experience potential mobility challenges?
- What other supportive services might you require? Examples may include housekeeping and yard work, transportation services, and help with meal preparation.
- What plans do you have in place for emergencies and life-changing events such as a chronic illness, the loss of a spouse, or falls and accidents?
- What will you do to maintain social interaction and stay engaged in the activities or hobbies you love?
As you’re thinking through these questions, you can also encourage your senior loved one to create a list of what’s most important to them about living at home. What do they value most? What do they need help with now? Having these conversations early and often will allow you to plan together and put a plan in place that respects their needs and preferences.
What Support is Available to Help Seniors Age in Place?
There are many different services and solutions available to help seniors age at home safely. The right option for your loved one will depend on their needs for care and support and desires for their quality of life.
For example, seniors who are in good health but need a little extra daily help may benefit from non-medical personal care, providing support with tasks such as medication reminders, grooming, dressing, bathing, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and help with errands. Companionship care is also available, offering invaluable friendship and emotional support to help seniors living alone avoid loneliness and social isolation.
At-home health care provides professional medical services in the comfort of home for seniors managing an acute illness or recovering from a hospital stay. Home health care can be offered in the form of skilled nursing support with medication management, IV therapy, and wound care services, as well as therapy services including physical, speech, and occupational therapies.
One of the most appealing aspects of at-home health care for seniors is that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Whether your loved one receives help for a few hours a day, a few days a week, or every day, they will enjoy the convenience and flexibility of a fully-customized care plan designed to accommodate their changing needs and lifestyle. At-home care can be offered within an older adult’s home or even in an independent living residence within a senior living community. In this way, at-home care makes it possible for older adults to live independently for longer even as their health changes.
Planning Ahead to Age in Place
Ultimately, aging in place is a highly personal decision, and everyone’s situation is different. Take your time to think through the advantages and potential challenges of aging in place and where to age in place. Whether your loved one chooses to stay at home or relocate to a retirement community, the key is to research care providers and create a plan as early as you can so that you’re well-prepared for the future — before your loved one’s need for care and support becomes urgent.
Do you have questions about at-home health care or the senior living options at Bethany Village? Contact us today for more information. We’re always happy to answer your questions and help you work through the right decision for your family!