How Do I Age In Place?

Aging in place is the ability to stay in your home as long as possible as you age. To age in place with ease, you must prepare financially and ensure your environment will support you. Planning ahead can make your life much easier down the road. Before a problem occurs, tackle it full on.

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1. Secure your funds for the future.

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First, assess your bank account. Securing your income for the future will help avoid major headaches you don’t want to deal with down the road.

How much income will you have in your retirement years, and how long will your savings last? If you will need a caretaker, will you be able to afford it?

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better. As you get closer to retirement, meet with a financial planner to ensure you will be able to age in place comfortably.

2. Make sure your home will be accessible and safe.

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If you are planning on purchasing a new home for retirement, you will want your new place to support you as you age with minimal remodeling.

A home that is best for aging in place will have:

  • A single level, with no entry stairs
  • Little to no steps
  • Thresholds that are level with the floor
  • Wide hallways
  • Ample lighting
  • Extra floor space for easy maneuverability
  • A walk-in shower with a seat
  • Countertops and storage that are easy to reach

Additionally, there are simple modifications you can make to further increase your safety as you age in place:

  • Replace entry stairs with ramps
  • Mount handrails in bathroom
  • Put non-slip surfaces in the bathtubs or shower
  • Install more lighting both outdoors and indoors
  • Replace round doorknobs with lever handles
  • Switch out existing chairs with seats that have armrests and aren’t too cushy or too close to the ground

3. Ensure adequate access to health care resources in your community.

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How accessible are health care resources in your community? Will you need to get a ride to the doctor or will you able to walk there? Will your pharmacy deliver your medication?

These are question you must consider when you plan to age in place. Check your local listings and ensure you will have access to the healthcare you may need. 

4. Determine if your community has local social opportunities.

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A strong community makes aging in place more enjoyable. See if your community has a senior center or community center with fun events and activities.

Volunteering is a great way to keep busy. Ask your favorite local attractions if they need a docent, or serve food at your local soup kitchen.

A community with parks, museums, libraries, and places of worship will never get dull. 

5. Look for outside assistance with home maintenance, yard work, errands, etc.

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In retirement, you deserve to relax without worrying about home maintenance. Look for local services – groundskeepers, housekeepers, gardeners - that can do the labor-intensive work for you.

Your town may also have services that can help with errands. Look for grocery or meal delivery programs that can bring food right to your door.

6. Find alternate transportation options.

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In your golden years, driving may not always be an option. Is your neighborhood walkable and close to shopping or public transit? Are there senior shuttle services available?

Your ability to get around without a car only gets more important as you age. You don’t want to feel lonely and isolated without alternate transportation options.

You can always take a taxi, but those costs can add up fast. Ride services such as Uber are on the cheaper side, but surge pricing occurs during busy hours. You need a smartphone to take advantage of that service, so make sure you have the tools in place to get around.

7. Equip your house with aging in place technology.

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The market has been exploding with new senior technology items that make aging in place easier than ever before. Investing in smart technology can sometimes be costly, but it will pay off in the long run if it helps you remain in your home. Aging in place technology you should consider includes:

  • A medical alert system 

A medical alert system acts as a safety net to help you age in place.

At the push of a button, an operator will contact you and send help your way. There is even fall detection technology that doesn’t need the push of a button -it automatically senses a fall and sends help immediately. For seniors who want protection in and out of the house, a mobile medical alert can protect you anywhere you go.

  • Automatic medication dispenser
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With an automatic medication dispenser, you never have to worry about missing a dose again. This device releases the pills at the time you need them so you will never take the wrong medication at the wrong time.

  • An automatic stove shut-off system

This device monitors movements and shuts off your stove when it is left unattended, preventing house fires and serious injury.

Whether you leave the stove unattended or slip and fall, the device will recognize the absence of activity and turn off the stove. It can even send an alert is sent to loved ones. This technology is ideal for aging seniors or individuals with memory loss.

  • Enhanced telephone
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Enhanced telephones have larger buttons and clearer sounds to ease communication for seniors. You may even add pictures of loved ones on speed dial to make calling that much easier. Staying connected to loved ones is easier than ever before.

  • Captioned telephone

For seniors hard of hearing, a captioned telephone can be the perfect way of getting messages. Text is displayed on a large screen as the other person talks. You can talk back as normal.

For seniors with impaired hearing, this makes phone calls easier and less awkward. You don’t need to ask the person on the other end to repeat themselves, when you can read their words as they speak.

  • A bath lift

A bath lift eases the trouble of getting in and out of an old tub. It has a seat that is controlled by a hand held remote so all you need to do it sit down and let the bath lift lower you down. There is a reclining option so you can enjoy a bath as you always have.

  • Walk-in bath tub

A walk-in bath tub prevents slips and falls when trying to get in and out of a bath. The tub opens from the side and has a water tight door. You can walk straight in, rather than having to step over the bath’s edge.

  • Smart showers
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Smart showers have a control panel that activates the shower with a push of a button. As our bodies age, it becomes more difficult to determine temperature, which increases your chance of being badly burned by scalding hot water.

Smart showers monitor the temperature and prevent it from getting this hot. Additional features include the ability to change the water pressure and angle, as well as colored lights, music, and aromatherapy.

8. Keep your mind and body healthy.

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Effectively aging in place is not only about creating a safe environment, but also relies on you taking care of yourself. A healthy diet, staying hydrated, and exercising are key ways to staying healthy as long as possible. 

It is important to get regular medical checkups to stay informed of your body’s wellbeing to prevent problems before they start. Stay social and keep the mind sharp to get the most out of your golden years. You deserve to age in place comfortably, easily, and safely. 

To recap, you can age in place if you: 

  1. Secure your funds for the future.
  2. Make sure your home will be accessible and safe.
  3. Ensure adequate access to health care resources in your community. 
  4. Determine if your community has local social opportunities. 
  5. Verify you can get outside assistance with home maintenance, yard work, errands, etc.
  6. Determine what your transportation options will be.
  7. Equip your house with technology to help you age in place easily.
  8. Keep your mind and body healthy.