What is Aging in Place?
Simply put, Aging in Place means remaining in your own home safely and independently while maintaining your lifestyle. It means not having to move from one’s present residence in order to secure necessary support services in response to changing needs.
It means the pleasure of living in your familiar surroundings with neighbors and friends rather than moving to a health care facility. It assures your ability to enjoy the daily familiar routines and the special events that enrich our lives.
It means you can call your home your home for a lifetime. Aging in Place has grown in popularity and is celebrated by national agencies that promote the positive outcomes of seniors having a choice in their care and living arrangements.
Why is Aging in Place Important?
Currently, the majority of senior persons aged 65 and older are living either with a spouse or alone in their own home. Many of these elderly people struggle with everyday tasks, their health care and the lives they lead in their homes. For many, their quality of life goes down as they get older.
As of 2010, there were approximately 39 million Americans over the age of 65. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030 there will be approximately 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65. That number is more than twice what it was in 2000 and represents nearly 20% of the entire projected U.S. population in 2030.
The challenge this number of older Americans will bring to the country is unprecedented. Given the facts surrounding the current economic problems, a failing health care system and the lack of local support systems needed to support older people, this is a serious predicament for our country. But, more importantly, it is a very big problem for millions of Americans who are aging in place (or wish to).
Aging in Place is a Choice
If you decide that you would like to ‘Age in Place’, it means you are choosing the following:
- how you want to spend your retirement years
- how you want your home to be set up
- what your health care choices will be
- which types of assistance are right for you
- what your wishes are for major life events (sickness, housing transitions, financial decisions)
Making these choices gives you control over your independence, quality of life and dignity. Most importantly to note, aging in place does not mean you have to do everything yourself. It means you get to plan how your needs are met, who meets them and when.
When to Set Up an Aging in Place Plan
Deciding to age in place isn’t just for the elderly. It’s for adults who are responsible and want to ensure their quality of life for years to come. If you haven’t yet retired, aging in place means you have to think about what your needs will be, research your options and devise a plan that will work for you and your family. If you have already retired, take control of your life and build a plan that will help you deal with issues you may encounter down the road.
Lastly, for those caring for an elderly parent or loved one, aging in place plans are for you too. It’s up to you to help your loved ones to ensure their needs are met and wishes are respected. It also will help you provide the level of care that is right for them, and show your respect by ensuring their dignity is kept in tact and their needs are met.