The great majority of older adults say they'd prefer to live out their days in their own home. For many, this desire is so strong that they’ll insist on staying in the face of what seems to be an impossible situation.
But even as a friend or relative begins to decline and need more support, "aging in place" can usually continue to work.
The good news is that there’s a wide and growing array of supports available to help older adults age in place safely and in comfort.
Practical needs to consider include:
Transportation. Driving -- which many older adults perceive as the key to their independence -- is a touchy subject, but talking about it is crucial, as is assessing an older adult's ability to continue to drive safely. Assisted living offers a number of available alternatives.
In-home safety. In assisted living they have installed things like bright lighting throughout the home, light switches, and grab bars in the bathroom, for starters. A certified aging-in-place specialist can make suggestions and help figure out how to implement needed changes.
Finances. Like driving, money is a touchy subject, but it's important for aging-in-place older adults to have a clear sense of their financial resources and how long they will last.
More ways to help an older adult age in place
Sit down with your relative and go over whether they have the income to cover their needs over time. A financial planner who specializes in eldercare can help. If it looks like there's going to be a lack of funds, become familiar with financial options.
Healthcare. Again, planning is key. If they’re willing, review healthcare coverage and make a list of doctors and nearby hospitals. Make sure everyone caring for your loved one knows what the plan is if a medical problem arises. The more information you have at hand before something happens, the better prepared you'll be to help when it does.
Household maintenance. One of the main reasons older adults wind up moving to senior living communities is because they have trouble "keeping up with the house."