May is Older Americans Month, a recognition promoted by the Administration for Community Living. The theme changes from year to year and this time it is a focus on aging in place titled, “Age My Way.”
The theme is described as a way to show “how older adults can plan to stay in their homes and live independently in their communities for as long as possible.”
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines aging in place as, “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”
Under any definition of aging in place there is a mention of support, such as in-home care services.
Get Ready to Age in Place
To be able to enjoy aging in place, it’s recommended that people plan ahead.
The United States Department of Health & Human Services’ National Institute on Aging has advice for making these plans.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about any chronic conditions or health issues. Of course, things may come up that one cannot anticipate such as a stroke or diagnosis of dementia, but there is still value in having a discussion with your doctor. For example, someone who is living with a chronic condition like diabetes may need to plan for medication management and reminders, healthy meal planning and preparation, and more so that they can be supported in the home with their illness or condition.
- Research the types of care available in your area: will you prefer adult day care? Which home care agency has the approach to care that speaks to you? If you move into an independent living facility, do they have caregivers on staff to help just you or does that cost extra?
- Speak candidly with family and friends about your choice to age in place. Sometimes long-term care is a patchwork quilt of support with some family assistance and professional caregivers doing different aspects of care.
- Make a list of your concerns about aging in place. Are you worried about transportation and being able to get out and see friends and maintain hobbies and other interests? Does getting up and down the basement stairs to do the laundry scare you? Do you know how to make your home safe in an emergency such as a natural weather disaster?
- Make a budget that looks at the costs of maintaining a home, hiring a caregiver, relocating to a facility, and other long-term care options. The fact is that you may need each of these scenarios over time as things change, such as the loss of a spouse or a new diagnosis.
Remember that needs can change over time and that as bodies age, some abilities do change. Being aware of how you will adapt as things like hearing, eyesight, and mobility become less reliable due to age or illness, can help with plans to age in place successfully.