“Aging in place” is a term used to describe a senior living in the residence of their choice as they age and receive the support and assistance they need in order to stay there. In an AARP study, nearly 90% of Americans age 65 and older expressed a desire to stay in their own homes as they age, even if they needed day-to-day assistance from an in-home caregiver or ongoing long-term care support to manage a health condition or maintain overall health during retirement.
With the silver tsunami of Baby Boomers under way, many seniors look to benefit from the many advantages that aging in place offers, such as connection to a place, to friends and to a community. A sense of identity and autonomy is maintained. Familiar surroundings help foster feelings of comfort and security and long-term emotional attachments to environmental surroundings have been shown to contribute to well-being in old age.
So assuming that your loved one has no serious health issues, such as dementia, and expresses a preference to age in place, what measures can be taken to help them stay at home? Amada and our team of dedicated caregivers can provide assistance with simple, everyday tasks, but how can you create an age-friendly and safe environment?
First of all, it helps to consider how the bodies and capabilities of seniors may alter with age. Examples of changes that might be experienced include reduced vision, decreased muscle strength, increased risk of falls due to loss of balance, reduced hearing and decreased mobility. A special health report by Harvard Medical School recommends that you “Ask your doctor each year if you need tests for balance and gait, cardiovascular problems, joint stiffness, and neurological problems. Your doctor should also review the medications you take. Improve your strength and balance through exercise to reduce your risk of falling.”
Secondly, a knowledgeable Amada Senior Care advisor can help you evaluate your living environment with an in-home safety assessment and provide numerous senior safety tips for aging in place. The most common potential safety hazards include area rugs that lack a nonskid backing, clutter left on floors, stairs and pathways, extension cords in home-traffic areas, and halls, stairwells and doorways and entries that are poorly lit.
Also consider that a few simple modifications to the home in anticipation of aging-in-place needs can make a huge difference. Forward planning is key to a smoother process. It is not necessary to renovate an entire home in one fell swoop, but it helps to be familiar with some of the tools and alternatives that are on the market. AARP offers this list of seven home-safety upgrades that are effective and cost-efficient.
Here are some questions to consider when evaluating whether your home will meet your future needs. If you plan ahead and anticipate problems before they are encountered, you will be able to live in your own home for years to come.
- Is the yard and exterior of your home as low-maintenance as possible?
- How wide are your entryways? Would they be able to accommodate a wheelchair?
- Do you have lots of different levels in your home?
- Do you have a steep staircase?
- Is your master bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor?
- Do you have non-slip flooring throughout?
- Are all carpets and area rugs secured?
- Are your kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinets easily reachable?
- Are your appliances easily accessible?
- Do you have lever style handles throughout?
- Do you have bright lighting in all areas, especially places like stairway landings?
- Do you have secure handrails on all steps (if the home has them)?
- Do you have multiple sources for lighting to reduce glare and shadows?
- Do you have grab bars in the bathroom?
- Can light switches, electrical outlets and thermostats be easily reached?
- Can windows be opened without effort?
- Do closets have lights and adjustable shelves?
CLICK HERE to read and download The AARP Home Fit Guide that illustrates the above issues and further explains home livability options. Let an Amada Senior Care advisor help you create an age-friendly and safe environment, which might include the protection of an Amada Connect personal emergency response system that ensures you or a loved one can live at home safely and independently. To learn more, please call 866-752-1961 or email info@AmadaSeniorCare.com.
“Aging in Place: Home Safety for Senior Living” written by Jane Noble and Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributors.