There are plenty of “buzzwords” buzzing about when it comes to addressing senior issues and/or talking about an aging population. The “Silver Tsunami,” “Boomers,” “Seniors,” “Mature adults,” “Older adults” and yes, we’ve even heard and read the term “Perennials.” The same can be said for all of the words associated with how those mature adults choose to live as they age.
With this in mind, today I wanted to take a look at the phrase “Aging in Place” and what that might mean for seniors who wish to remain in their community, whether it’s on their own, with a spouse, or in a home-sharing arrangement. In the latter case, you could (1) open your home to share with other seniors, (2) sell your home and get together with friends to share the cost of buying a new home, or (3) find someone in your area who is looking to share their home and enter into a home-sharing agreement with them!
Here are my Top 6 Tips for Aging In Place – a guide for how to successfully age in place in any of those scenarios.
You’ve decided you need to make some changes to enable you to stay in your own home – or at least to stay in the community you’ve come to call home. And you certainly have no interest in a seniors building, condo, rental apartment – or moving in with your kids! That’s great, but there are things one must consider if you choose to stay at home for as long as possible. These considerations hold true whether living alone, with a partner or sharing that experience with a fellow senior, living in a home-sharing arrangement.
- Transit: Does your community offer reliable, affordable access to fully accessible transit options? If you have medical, dental or even just personal errands to run and can no longer drive, this become critical to your ability to remain independent. One benefit of home-sharing is that usually at least one of you can still drive. If not then you can at least share the cost of a taxi!
- Retrofit your Home: Accessibility is key when you consider aging in place. Install grab bars in your shower stall and consider installing a raised toilet to lessen the wear and tear on your knees and/or hips as you age. If you have front steps, consider having a ramp installed whether you need it now or not. Again, home-sharing can provide the extra income needed to make your home accessible.
- Scan your environment: Is your home both comfortable AND safe? Look for rugs that turn up at the edges and could be considered a tripping hazard. Is the lighting bright enough that you can see anything that might be in your way? Are your doorways and furniture placement wide enough to accommodate your needs if at some point you require the aid of a walker or wheelchair? In other words, can you navigate your own home (or the one you are sharing with others!) safely? If the home has stairs, will there be room physically and within your budget to install a chair lift in the event you find yourself needing one? Are there any other tripping hazards such as exposed wiring for TV’s or lamps that should be tucked away? If your stairs are hardwood AND you can still navigate them, you might consider installing a carpet runner to reduce the chance of a slip and fall.
- Safety Features: While it’s always best to leave the house immediately in the event of a fire, having a fire extinguisher on hand never hurts. As well, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are both a must have in any home. For seniors aging in place, consider installing a smoke alarm that also has flashing lights. If you wear a hearing aid, you might not hear an alarm but you could see the lights and the flashing light could also provide visual guidance in the dark as you make your way out of the home.
- Food Preparation: Seniors who live alone often scrimp on meal preparation. Reheating soup, eating a sandwich instead of a cooked meal — everyone does it once in a while but as a regular diet, your nutrition may fall short, which can compromise your health in the long run. An advantage to home-sharing is sharing the responsibility for shopping, meal prep and enjoying a meal together. And if you are truly tired of cooking, after 40 or 50 years of cooking for yourself and others, consider “Meals on Wheels.” Many communities offer some form of “Meals on Wheels” type program. Consider signing up. Having home cooked meals, delivered to your door, alleviates the stress of cooking every night. Even using such a service as a supplement to your own efforts just once or twice a week can be worthwhile.
- Technology: Make sure your home is outfitted with the latest and greatest in technology, much of which is now available at an affordable price. Home security systems and/or utilizing a “smart home” system that can play music, read out recipes as you cook and do a myriad of other things for you (even monitoring for medical crisis) just makes good sense. You can program your thermostat to save money and keep you warm, all while never leaving your armchair. Order groceries using your smart phone and have them delivered to your door. In short, use the resources available to you to make living life, as you age in place, as comfortable as possible!
As the old saying goes, “we don’t care what you call us, just don’t call us late for dinner!” All kidding aside, whether I am referred to as an older adult, a senior or a perennial (like the flower I wonder?) doesn’t really concern me too much. What does concern me is how I will manage aging comfortably in place, either in the familiarity of my own home or with another senior in their home.
Both options can mean a home-sharing arrangement. With these tips on what to consider if you wish to age in place, we hope you’ll now consider home-sharing as a viable, reasonable, affordable and even desirable option for living out your later years in comfort!
Want to know more?
Tune in to the Zoomer Radio 740AM show “From a Woman’s Perspective” the first Saturday each month and listen to Dorothy dish on housing options!
Invite Dorothy to speak at your next service club, church or social group meeting. Her presentation *An Introduction to Golden Girls Living * offers plenty of food for thought!