This lifestyle offers many benefits for the elderly, including improved physical and mental health, enhanced safety, and increased social engagement.
Aging in place can also provide financial benefits, as it is often more cost-effective than moving to a retirement home or assisted living facility. With the right support and resources, aging in place can be a great way for seniors to stay healthy and independent.
What is Aging in Place?
Aging in place refers to staying in one's home for as long as possible. It is often the goal of seniors who want to maintain their independence and continue living in a familiar environment. However, aging in place isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It can be achieved in many different ways.
Some older adults may need help with just one aspect of aging in place, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom or hiring a home care provider. Others may need more assistance, such as hiring a contractor to make modifications to the home or finding help with daily activities.
Aging in place does not just refer to aging in one's own home. It can also mean aging in the home of a child or other relative or in an independent senior living community. It is a good option for older adults who are able to participate in their own care, but need some assistance with daily living.
There are also assisted living communities designed specifically for aging in place. These communities allow seniors to maintain their independence while getting the support they need.
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Benefits of Aging in Place
Aging in place can offer many benefits, both physically and mentally. It can help improve your health and quality of life. It can also be safer than moving to a new location or finding alternative housing. There are many benefits including:
Better physical health:
- Aging in place can be beneficial to your physical health. Having a comfortable place to call home can help you manage chronic health conditions like arthritis or heart disease. To provide a safe and healthy living environment, you may want to make some modifications to your home, like installing grab bars in the bathroom or widening passageways. Better mental health
- Aging in place can be beneficial to your mental health as well. Studies have shown that elderly people who live in their own homes experience less mental decline than those who move to assisted living or nursing homes. When you age in place, you are able to continue your daily activities, connect with friends and family, and feel connected to the community.
Physical Health Benefits of Aging in Place
- Weight gain - As you age, your metabolism slows, and you may find it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Eating unhealthy foods and not getting enough exercise can lead to weight gain. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help you prevent weight gain. You can also find simple ways to make it easier to stay fit as you get older. Working with a nutritionist can help you find the best ways to maintain your health and fitness.
- Joint pain - Aging brings many changes to the body, including changes in the joints. You may find that your joints become stiff or swollen, making it harder to get around and do daily activities.
Getting regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy range of motion throughout your body. Senior centers and communities offer classes and group activities to promote physical health and movement. Working with a physical and occupational therapist can also help find exercises and the right pain management techniques, such as stretches and holistic approaches to alleviate the pain.
- Vision loss - As we age, many people experience vision changes, such as blurry vision or diminished night vision. You may also find that you need different types of eyeglasses or visual aids to help you see better. Getting regular eye exams can help detect vision health issues before they become a problem. Working with an eye doctor can help you find the best ways to manage your vision health.
The physical changes seniors experience are manageable for seniors who are aging in a familiar and comfortable environment or home.
Mental Health Benefits of Aging in Place
- Sense of belonging - When you age in place, you can maintain a sense of belonging and connection to your community. You can continue seeing the same friends and attending social events. You can also help build new connections by getting involved with groups that share your interests. Group excursions at senior centers and communities are excellent for socialization.
- Reduced stress - A move or change in living situation can be very stressful. It can also cause health issues that make it harder to manage. Aging in place can help you avoid these problems. It can provide a more stable and secure environment for you to live in.
- Better sleep - As you grow older, you may experience changes in your sleeping patterns.
Getting adequate rest is important for health and well-being. Sleep problems can lead to health issues, such as obesity and heart disease. Working with your provider and doctor can help you identify ways to improve your sleep. You may benefit from lifestyle changes, such as reducing caffeine intake or creating a more soothing sleeping environment.
The benefits for mental health are important for seniors who are aging in place and can be fostered with peers and neighbors.
Social Benefits of Aging in Place
- Better connection with family - When you age in place, you can be more engaged with your family members. You can participate in family gatherings or be there to help with younger family members.
It can also be a great way to meet new people in your community. You can get involved in community groups or volunteer opportunities that help you connect with others. Working with a therapist can help you find the right connections and activities to get involved in. - Better connection with friends - Aging in place can also help you maintain connections with friends.
These relationships can last a lifetime, providing you with support and comfort as you age. You can get together with friends and have regular get-togethers. You can also stay connected with friends online.
Financial Benefits of Aging in Place
- Lower costs - Many seniors find it cheaper to live in their own homes than in an assisted living or a nursing home. The average cost of living at home with the support of caregivers is approximately $52,000 per year as opposed to Skilled Nursing Care of $100K+ per year. *
Living in your home provides more freedom and autonomy than other living situations. You can also find ways to reduce your cost of living, including getting energy-efficient appliances or retrofitting your home for better energy use. Working with a financial advisor can help you find ways to save money and stay financially healthy. For seniors who are eligible for services to support aging in place, the local area agency on aging (AoA) has case workers who can assist with navigating the system.
- More accessible and affordable health care - Many seniors go to a nearby clinic, doctor’s office, or health care provider that is easily accessible. You can also make an appointment to see your doctor or specialist more easily. This can be helpful if you have a long-term condition or ongoing health issues.
Aging in Place Tips
- Keep your doctor in the loop - When you age in place, you want to be sure to keep your doctor informed. You can visit the doctor regularly to stay on top of your health. You can also find ways to improve your health at home. Eating a healthy diet, including vegetables and fruits, provides nutrients that help keep your body healthy. Drinking plenty of water is an easy way to stay hydrated and prevent health issues.
- Maintain a healthy social life - Aging in place doesn’t have to mean you are completely isolated. You can get out and do things in your community. You can volunteer, take classes, or engage in fun activities that keep you mentally active. You can also find ways to stay in touch with friends and family members who may live far away.
Support for Aging in Place
- Family and friends - Family and friends can provide the support you need to stay in your home as long as possible. You can ask a family member or friend to help with tasks like shopping or running errands. You can also join a support group or find a friend or neighbor who can help you stay active. - Community organizations
- There may be community organizations that can provide assistance or resources. For example, you can contact a senior center or retirement home to see if they offer help with daily tasks. You can also find community groups that can provide emotional support, such as a faith-based group, or an interest group, such as painting, bird watching, or theater, or gardening.
Safety Considerations for Aging in Place
- Stay connected to your community and neighbors. Being social and maintaining connections can help you get the support you need. You can also find ways to get help if you need it. It’s important to talk to neighbors and let them know that you need assistance.
- Get a medical alert bracelet - A medical alert bracelet can let others know about your medical conditions. This can help you get help if you need it. You can also let friends and family members know about your condition to help them provide support.
- Create a safe home - Make modifications to your home to make it safer. Install handrails and grab bars in your bathroom
Resources to support Aging in Place
Aging in place is preferable and appealing to Seniors who want to live independently. Programs and partners listed on the state website for the Department of Aging (DoA) and funded by the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) list resources for seniors.
The website lists partners and programs that promote the Departments' goal to “enjoy wellness, longevity, and quality of life in strong, healthy communities.” They actively collaborate with other entities and organizations from transportation, nutrition, falls and injury prevention, emergency preparedness and response, fraud, abuse, and many other issues to serve ALL seniors and increase public awareness of services to support aging in place.
For California residents who need help visit https://aging.ca.gov/About_Us/
*(Genwork Report, 2019)
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