Aging at Home Guide: What Does It Take to Age in Place?

Senior Celebrating with Family and Aging in Place

As we get older, many of us want to age in place. Aging at home means to stay in your own residence as long as possible — meaning as long as you can do so and stay healthy. 

Choosing to stay in your home during your older years is a great goal, but takes planning. Thinking through all of the ins and outs takes effort. This guide is to help you make all of those considerations when desiring to age at home.

We’ll cover:

  • Growing Old Alone…Or Not?
  • Designing a Home for Aging and Disabilities
  • Choosing Services
  • Planning for the Worst

Growing Old Alone…Or Not?

A great number of retirement-aged adults are living alone. However, many of those adults will eventually have to move into some sort of assisted living due to health complications. If you’d like to spend more time aging at home, it may be best not to do it alone. 

Here are a few ways to continue living on your own, but not alone.

Get a Roommate

If you’re widowed, life can be lonely. Many elderly live years past their spouse, and often, that time is spent living by themselves. 

However, many choose to continue living in their current residence — yet not alone. 

The answer? A roommate.

Everyone needs socialization, yet as we age it becomes more difficult to get out. Too many are left wondering how their best friends are doing. Getting someone to share your home with you, or perhaps moving in with a friend, is a great way to maintain independence for a longer time. 

Benefits of Getting a Roommate:

  • Having company
  • Useful in the event of an incident
  • Shared expenses
  • Quality of life

Move to a Retirement Community

Retirement communities are a solid option for anyone looking to live without assistance for as long as possible.

Sure, you may have to move from your current place but there are a number of great benefits to moving to a community.

Benefits of Moving to a Retirement Community:

  • Events and scheduled activities
  • People of similar age and background
  • Some communities offer assisted living options (should the need arise)
  • Residences designed for the elderly and/or disabled

Buy or Rent Next to Family

Moving in with your children, relatives or other loved ones can be taxing on your relationships. 

It can also mean less independence.

Many aging individuals would hate to inconvenience family and heavily change the way they live in order to get the help they may need. However, moving into a nearby home or apartment is a great option.

You (or your loved one aging in place) will maintain independence while calling on nearby help during times of need. Some are even choosing to live on the same property, yet not in the same house.

Benefits of Moving Close to Family:

  • Help is close by, should you need it
  • Companionship of loved ones
  • Less need for travel for visits

Designing a Home for Aging

Perhaps the best way to age in place is by preparing your home for future needs. Thinking through eventualities and current needs allows for proper planning. 

This section is to help you determine needs when preparing to remain in your home as long as possible.

Choose Equipment

There is no shortage of equipment and machines to aid those who are getting older (or the disabled). Many of these items are useful, yet may not be necessary. 

Here are a few things to seriously consider:

  • Adjustable bed
  • Raised toilet
  • Large digital clocks
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Automated kitchen tools (such as a jar opener)
  • Stairlift
  • Health monitors in case of a fall or medical event

Install Fixtures

In addition to equipment, many of the things you use every day will need updating and/or changing. 

Some of the needed fixture changes include:

  • Door knobs into easy-to-use handles (like our Ultralatch)
  • Showerheads
  • Extra lighting, including portable options
  • Railings in places requiring you to walk

Contract Design Changes

Of course, some of the needed changes for aging at home will require a professional handyman. Some of these items are incredibly important for your health and mobility over time.

Here is a list of potential projects to consider:

  • Ramps into the home and in the home with small steps inside
  • Replacing doors with lighter options, making them easier to open/close
  • Opening up space to allow for better clearance in tight spots of the home

Bonus Tip: Ensure that your home meets the current requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Things like door clearance and handle height are meant to help those with disabilities but are helpful for anyone aging in place.

Choosing Services

In addition to where you’ll age and the changes you need to make are the services which will help you stay where you are as long as possible. 

As we get older, mobility is hindered and energy level drops.

Hiring services to maintain common tasks allows you (or your loved one) to remain comfortable in their own home. Here is a compilation of the three most common services for those aging at home.

1. House Cleaning

Keeping up with the house is a fantastic way to get some exercise as we age. Doing the dishes, straightening up and taking out the trash can give a sense of accomplishment and independence. 

Most should do these things as long as it’s safe.

However, deep cleaning is something that may be too much for many. So, every 3-6 months hiring a service to come and give the home a good cleaning can help. Over time, as those other tasks become too much, you can increase the frequency and level of cleaning hired out.

2. Outdoor Maintenance

Heat is a tremendous problem for many elderly, and so is the extreme cold for that matter. That said, if you’re living in a home that requires outdoor maintenance — those tasks need to be done. 

In the summer, lawns need mowing. In the winter, snow needs shoveling. There are a number of tasks to do, but many aging in place will need a service.

3. Home Health Assistance

Aging in place is easier than ever since the advent of home health services. With varying frequency (daily, weekly, etc.) a nurse or home health assistant comes to your home. These visits can help:

  • Check your vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.)
  • Talk about symptoms 
  • Even help sort out medication

Note: There are many options to hire a service, but be sure to consult with a professional and consider your Medicare/Medicaid benefits.

Planning for the Worst

Hopefully, the items on this list have you thinking about the best ways to tackle aging in place. 

But there is one last thing to consider.

The most well-laid-out plan may not prevent the need for assisted-living later in life. At times, health problems come quickly — leaving many without any sort of plan in place.

Don’t let this happen to you or your loved one who wishes to age at home. Ensure there are guidelines should the need for care arise. From choosing who will become power of attorney to where it is you’ll stay. 

The important thing is to have both a plan to age in the home… and out of it.