In a study from the AARP, more than 80% of adults said that they would prefer to age in place for as long as possible as they got older, rather than uprooting their lives and moving into institutionalized care. To keep it simple, aging in place refers to older adults living in the comfort and security of their own homes, rather than transitioning into a senior care facility.
In addition to being an enormously popular course of action among the elderly and their loved ones, aging in place comes with a number of significant benefits. Staying at home empowers seniors to maintain their independence and quality of life for longer, while enjoying their time in a location that is warm, familiar, and comfortable. Compared to other types of long-term care, aging in place also offers greater freedom and flexibility, while being significantly less expensive and more convenient.
Remaining immersed in their community can allow older adults to maintain their vital social connections, and stay close with friends and family. At the same time, aging in place has also been shown to have some unique health benefits, and may promote higher overall happiness.
With that being said, embracing the idea of aging in place can be daunting – both for the elderly, and for the family caregivers who love and support them. It’s only natural to have questions about what it takes to age in place successfully.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s circumstances will be unique, and there will never be one perfect way forward. However, there are some key steps you can take to determine if your loved one is equipped to age in place – and get them started down a path to long-term comfort and health.
As you begin planning your strategy for helping a senior loved one age in place, it helps to know where to place your focus. Caring.com offers three aspects of the situation to consider when helping a loved one age in place:
- The person
- The place
- The support network
Let’s explore all three of those elements in more depth, so you and your family can move forward with confidence and peace of mind:
Whether you’re an aging adult considering your long-term care plan, or a family caregiver hoping to help an elder age in place, it’s important to carefully consider the senior’s needs, wants, preferences, and abilities, asking questions such as:
- Can they afford to remain at home?
- Are they able to keep up with activities of daily living (such as walking, grooming, and cleaning) or will they need some additional support from a senior companion or caregiver?
- Are they healthy enough to live independently, or will they need consistent medical attention or around-the-clock care?
- Is your loved one active and involved in their community, or are they likely to feel withdrawn or isolated staying at home?
- What is their personality? Will they be receptive to the idea of receiving outside help, or reluctant to let someone new into their home?
Thinking through questions like these can be a powerful first step in helping your loved one age in place successfully. Determining the senior’s wants and needs can help guide you in deciding what strategies to take to get them help. In some cases, this could mean connecting them with convenient delivery services. For other seniors, companion care may be the right fit, providing social support and personalized care on a flexible schedule. In other cases, a senior may require the services of a skilled nurse or medical home care provider.
Caring.com breaks “place” down into three crucial elements:
- Residence of choice
- Home modification
- Community environment
Above all, it’s important to determine if your loved one’s home is safe, comfortable, accessible, and conducive to aging in place. For example, if your loved one has difficulty with stairs, but lives in a home with steep steps leading to the front and rear entrances, this location may not be sustainable for them in the long-term.
In other cases, there may be simple or more in-depth home modifications you can make to empower your loved to successfully age in place. These could be simple cosmetic projects, like clearing away unwieldy clutter and keeping the home clean and free of dust or mold. There are also all sorts of additions that can make a home more senior-friendly, like adding extra lighting, inserting grab bars and supports in the bathroom, building in accessible shelving, laying down non-slip mats, and installing ramps. Other times, it may help to rearrange the senior’s home, by, say, moving their bedroom to the ground floor or creating more accessible walking paths by repositioning furniture.
Finally, it’s important to think of your loved one’s community setting – and the challenges, and opportunities, it creates. For instance, if your loved one can no longer drive, think about public transit options in the area. In many cases, you may need to connect your loved one with reliable driving services to ensure that they can continue to get around safely and efficiently. Are there community events for your loved one to enjoy? Neighbors that they know and trust? Local resources and services they can use when needed?
A professional caregiver can help make sure that your loved one’s environment is always kept clean, tidy, and safe, while also providing driving services, so the senior can attend community events and run errands. Along the way, a caregiver can provide physical support and assistance, while also serving as a friendly companion to make each day brighter and more enjoyable.
The Support Network
We’ve talked before about the importance of creating a “caregiving network.” To paraphrase an old saying, it takes a village to support a senior – and it’s important to think of the many people who will be involved in helping your elderly loved one age in place, including:
- Medical professionals
- Friends and family
- Local services
- Professional caregivers and companions
The list goes on and on. As Caring.com notes, aging in place can be a practical and productive solution if there is “a good support network in place.”
As you look ahead to the day-to-day realities of aging in place, it’s important to think about whether your loved one has a support network they can rely on – and then, how to make communication amongst this network as easy as possible.
Does your loved one have a support network in place? Being realistic, think about how much time you have to spend on caregiving, and think about any friends, neighbors, or family members near your senior loved one who could also contribute to their care plan. Next, make a list of the loved one’s doctors, and start doing research into local service providers in their area – including laundry services, housekeeping services, food delivery services, and home care services.
Then, think about what it would take to manage this list of service providers, family members, and caregivers. Will it be easy to coordinate, communicate, and get everyone on the same page? Taking concrete steps to make this happen can make an enormous difference in helping your loved one age in place successfully – and give you back time and peace of mind.
Companions for Seniors Is Here to Help Make Aging in Place Easier
Interested in learning more about helping your mom or dad age in place? Curious about all of the long-term care options available to your family? Looking for a senior companion to help ensure that your loved one is able to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, while living at home?
Companions for Seniors is here to help!
Our trained and bonded companions are passionate about empowering the elderly to live more independently. Our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home, while connecting them with their community and helping to nurture meaningful relationships.
Our companions are available on flexible schedules to spend time with the senior in your life. Whether your loved one needs transportation services, a helping hand, or just a friendly face around the house, our caregivers can help give your senior loved one the personalized attention and support they need – while giving family caregivers a much-needed chance to rest and recharge.
Have any more questions? Curious about how to set up a personalized care plan for the aging adult in your life? Get in touch online or give us a call at 866-910-9020 to get the conversation started!