Aging in Place
An AARP study shows that over 80% of U.S. residents over 45 say they want to remain in their own homes even when they need assistance. Another study, by Clarity and the EAR Foundation shows that 26% of older people fear losing independence and 13% fear moving to a nursing home much more than they fear death.
The major factors enabling aging in place according to an AARP report are:
- Convenience of living close to or within walking distance of services needed.
- Transportation: Increased mobility options can reduce reliance on transportation by personal car.
- Affordable and accessible housing.
According to data from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, most of today’s retirees don’t move away from home. They tend to stay within 20 miles in order to remain close to family and friends.
According to an AARP report most retirees today don’t tend to move. Older adults currently represent about 13% of the population. More than half (51.2% ) live in just nine states. Those being California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey
Of the 80% of adults 65 and older living in metropolitan areas, 64% live outside the principal cities of those areas. Older adults are the most geographically stable of any age group, and most who do move remain in the same county. According to the Administration on Aging only 3.7% of older people move, as opposed to 13.1% of those under age 65.
A large part of aging in place, getting the care you want in the place you want it, and other aspects of planning for the future would benefit from a certified nurse life care planner, a certified case manager, and nurse advocate input and intervention. Look for certification with someone in these capacities.
Questions you need to ask yourself
AARP's Livability Index
- Do physical or mental limitations affect your ability to live at home? Are you able to get your health needs met at home?
- Do you have family, friends, or organizations like church groups who will provide non-paid care for you? And are these informal caregivers able to provide the care you may require?
- Do you have the money you will need to stay at home for in-home services? (Medicare provides limited short term home health care that is specific)
- How well do you get around at home? Do stairs and the lack of a bathroom on the main floor affect your ability to remain home?
- Can you afford the home modifications necessary to be able to move about your home as aging affects your physical abilities?
- What kinds of community services are offered in your area and if they are not free can you afford the cost? (Many communities do not offer services.)
- Are transportation services available?
- Is there a senior center nearby?
AARP has developed a Livability Index as a web-based tool to measure community livability. Users can search the Index by address, ZIP Code, or community to find an overall livability score, as well as a score for each of seven major livability categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation,
environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. Check it out here:
Best Places - Aging in Place
Certification is a level of protection that should be considered in all areas concerning aging. The article below speaks to this with regard to construction and remodeling planning as well.
Mark Miller of www.RetirementRevised.com writes: I always cringe when magazines and cable TV networks run stories on the “best places to retire.” The usual approach is to crunch data about a variety of livability factors such as the cost of housing, taxes and the average number of sunny days per year. Follow the data crunchers and you’ll soon be packing up to live a long, low-cost and sun-tanned life someplace you’ve never heard of–with no friends, family or community connections in sight. It’s a classic case of “garbage in-garbage out.”
The flip side of the coin on “best places” is “aging in place”–a notion often misunderstood as simply “staying put.” But author and retirement expert John Nelson urges people considering the “where to live” question to think more holistically. “We tend to think of aging in place as staying where we lived during our working years, but that might be an abysmal place to spend retirement,” says Nelson, co-author of What Color is Your Parachute?
“Instead, think of aging in place as finding the residence that will allow you to stay there as long as possible, no matter what happens. Most of us will move at some point in retirement. If we’re smart about it, an easy early move can prevent a difficult later move. We can make it proactive and positive, instead of reactive and negative.”
An AARP survey found that 89 percent of Americans would like to live in their current homes as long as possible–and the number rose to 95 percent when people over age 75 were asked the question. But that same AARP survey shows that most people aren’t doing the proactive thinking Nelson recommends. Just 16 percent said they had made any modifications to their homes that would make it possible to stay as they age.
For Those Interested in Staying in Their Homes
According to a survey from the Hartford and the MIT Age Lab, half of boomers plan to stay in their current home as they age; however most have not made a plan to make their home more usable as physical abilities change.
The Hartford survey revealed that as far as adults ages 46-65, are concerned, 77% have talked to their spouse or partner about future housing needs but only 29% have made a plan, and 96% of those surveyed were aware of changes they could make to their current home to make it more livable as they age, but only 26% have made such changes.
Some of the things you should consider in preparing your home for your retirement years:
- Check doors for the width to allow for wheelchairs
- Remove thresholds
- Include as many different sources of light as possible
- Make showers and tubs easily accessible and in some cases remove the tub and replace with a shower that has no curb. Install grab bars and grips.
- Removing throw rugs especially in the bathroom
- Assuring sturdy handrails on both sides at steps
- Good lighting and switching especially at stairs, halls, and entries
- Securing or removing carpets at stairs
- Soft path lighting for nighttime mobility
Consider transportation options if you can no longer drive. How will you get to shopping areas, the homes of family and friends, the doctor’s office, etc.?
Throughout the country, 55 "village" programs are up and running, providing a range of low-cost home, medical, shopping, and social services and activities to senior members. Another 120 are in the works. And there are hundreds of other organized efforts to structure services to older residents of what are called "naturally occurring retirement communities."
Their common goal is to help people stay in their homes through their 70s and 80s and, in a growing number of cases, into their 90s. Check out this article: money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2011/01/28/senior-villages-take-root-as-movement-matures
1-800-HomeCare.com has become one of the most respected resources for locating a professional home care provider and is the referral source to use for all of your home care needs. Their network members offer comprehensive home health care services that enable patients to stay in the comfort and security of their homes during times of recuperation, disability, and chronic or terminal illness.
There is a company that offers a wireless, hands-free safety system in case something goes wrong. This system provides real-time remote activity monitoring keeping all parties in touch all day, every day, even when there are great distances between the person(s) being monitored and those doing the monitoring. For more information check www.BeClose.com
There are several companies that provide quality in home care and assistance. Check www.homeinstead.com/Pages/home.aspx and www.villageseniorcare.com/
According to another AARP study most seniors surveyed were unaware of technologies, such as medication reminders, home activity sensors, electronic pillboxes, and fall detection devices that would help them to remain healthy and save as they lived there.
Laurie Orlov, of www.ageinplacetech.com notes that this same survey indicated that they would be willing to use them if they existed. In the near future, Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) will add an advanced training program that will add assessment and introduction of those needed home technologies.
That suggests too many of us are living in what some experts have dubbed Peter Pan housing - homes designed for people who will never get old. I’m the first to admit that baby boomers actually don’t think we will get old. But if you are willing to admit that you might actually age, you should get familiar with universal design. The term refers to a set of architecture and design principals geared to providing suitable living environments for a diverse range of people. For people who are aging, universal design encompasses everything from the height of countertops and electric sockets to usability of faucets, door levers, switches, and appliances. Some of the best ideas include wide, no-elevation entrances, comfort height toilets, lever door handles, safety grab bars and better lighting.
Universal design can be used in remodeling or in new home construction. Jan Cullinane put universal design principles to work when she and her husband built a new home recently in northern Florida. Cullinane, 54, is co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, Cullinane sought out a builder she could work with to install features like non-skid tile, curb-less showers, levered doorknobs and even an elevator that connects the three floors of the house. “Universal design isn’t really for old people–it’s really an idea that works for all people,” she says. If you’re building a new home or considering remodeling, look for builders, architects and designers who’ve been certified as aging-in-place specialists (CAPS) after taking special training.
You can find state-by-state listings of CAPS specialists at the websites of AARP and the National Association of Homebuilders. Consider whether your community offers the key aging-in-place amenities, such as one-stop shopping locations, shuttle services, age-appropriate fitness and community centers, and even something as basic as sidewalks.
What is Independent Living and How Much Should it Cost?
Perhaps the home you have been living in has a lot of stairs, a large yard and a steep hill that are becoming cumbersome. Maybe it's the home that once housed your growing family and you simply do not need the extra space and burden of housekeeping. These are often situations which make a person consider alternative living arrangements. For many, it they are not in need of assisted living, do not want or need the care or supervision of a grown child and want to maintain their independence and privacy as long as possible. Independent Living communities may be an ideal choice.
Among the various levels of senior living, independent living options are the least restrictive, supervised or regulated. Independent Living communities are structured settings which are designed for older adults, usually 55 and over. As the name implies, residents in independent living settings are able to fully care for themselves. In some setting, like continuing care communities, independent housing is the first step in transitional programs, while others like subsidized apartments are designed for those with limited incomes.
Reasons Not to Move When You Retire
If you’re happy with where you live, there’s no reason to relocate in retirement
It might seem like a good idea to move when you retire; perhaps to a place that has better weather, sports teams whose games you can attend, more museums or art galleries, a place near the ocean or on a lake or even an area with a much lower cost of living. However you should also consider the problems of such a move. You will be moving away from friends and family into an area with which you are not as familiar.
There are reasons to consider a move but even more to retire in place.
- Stay where you have family and friends, know the community, know where the resources are, can easily find your way around, understand public transportation, where to shop, which professional people to use (doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants) etc.
- Relocating is expensive; selling your home, buying a new one and all the costs and hassles involved
- You could relocate to a place that after a time you discover is not where you really want to live.
- Enjoy the comforts of the home in which you have lived and retrofitted to suit your needs and if there are areas that need improvement, make them, as this will be a fraction of the cost of starting from scratch in a new location.