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Aging-in-Place: Tips for Staying in Your Home

Aging in Place: Basic Info

    The term aging in place means living in your home and community. Many older adults would rather stay at home than move to a facility. Aging in place can mean safety, comfort and independence. And, it costs less to live at home instead of a facility! So how can you successfully age in place?

 

Aging in Place and You

Aging in Your Community

Community contact is a key part of aging in place. First, think about places you like to visit, such as shops and restaurants. Then, think about visiting these places with limited mobility. For example, if you cannot easily climb stairs, you may stop visiting the diner down the street with steps leading to the door. You could find another place that does not have stairs. You may also want to consider healthcare. Does your community have healthcare providers locally or nearby? These are just some community characteristics that need to be considered.

 

Aging may Change You

As you get older, your lifestyle and abilities may change. Some older adults have chronic health problems that can impact day-to-day functioning. This can make it harder to safely live at home. Consider internal and external factors.

 

Internal Factors

Internal factors are in you. These can include physical, cognitive and sensory capabilities.  Aging may lead to a decline in physical activity. Activities of daily living might be more difficult. For example, moving, dressing, hygiene or even eating might take more effort. Consider:

 

•    Balance and ability to walk steadily
•    Muscle weakness
•    Problems with vision and hearing
•    Slower movement
•    Fear of falling

 

As we age, cognitive ability may decline. This means that memory, perception, language, thinking, reasoning and judgement may be impacted. It may be harder to perform activities of daily living. Practicing brain exercises, like puzzles, can help. As we age, we also may have declines in physical ability. For example, you can reduce risk and fear of falls with strength training and balance programs.

 

External Factors

External factors are outside of you. One important external factor is the home. Homes can be changed for safety and comfort. Consider:

  • No-step entrances
  • Wide doorways and hallways Flooring that lowers the risk of tripping/slipping and falling
  • Furniture at appropriate height: easier to get up
  • Accessible bathrooms
  • Grab bars near the toilet
  • Grab bars in the showers or bathtub area
  • Handrails on stairs and steps
  • Laundry on first floor
  • New technology

 

Are you willing to try new technology? Some homes feature technology that can make aging in place easier. Some examples include:

 

•    Fall sensors built into rooms
•    Wrist-based fall sensor device
•    Lighting and climate control
•    Voice-activated home entertainment control
•    Remote appliance monitoring
•    Assistive robots

 

I Want to Stay Home!

Whether you rent or you own, your home environment must be safe and supportive. Think beyond the basics. If you want to age in place, take steps now so you can safely stay in your own home. Consider the following activities of daily living.

 

  • Personal care
  • Health care: can you take your medicine?
  • Daily chores
  • Meals: are you eating balanced meals with people?
  • Home maintenance
  • Managing finances
  • Keeping safe: will you wear an alert button?
  • Leaving your home and getting around town

 

When Aging in Place is No Longer an Option

The following factors may indicate that aging in place is no longer an option. This does not mean that you have to move to a facility. You may need to move in with a loved one; be sure to discuss this with your loved ones first!

 

  • You struggle to care for your own needs.
  • Your family and friends are no longer available to help you with daily tasks - either because of exhaustion or life events (e.g., work, new baby, etc.)
  • Your home requires a lot of modifications to allow you to continue living there
  • You can no longer afford in-home services (e.g., housekeeping, medical, etc.)
  • Your instinct tells you it’s time to move.

 

References

  • Aging in place: Growing older at home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/aging-place-growing-older-home
  • Alves-Oliveira, P., Petisca, S., Correia, F., Maia, N. and Paiva, A. (2015). Social robots for older adults: Framework of activities for aging in place with robots. Paper presented at the International Conference on Social Robotics, Paris, France.
  • Anstey, K. J., & Low, L. F. (2004). Normal cognitive changes in aging. Australian Family Physician, 33(10).
  • Cesari, M., Landi, F., Torre, S., Onder, G., Lattanzio, F. andBernabei, R. (2002). Prevalence and risk factors for falls in an older community-dwelling population. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 57(11).
  • Cook, C. C., Yearns, M. H. and Martin, P. (2005). Aging in place: Home modifications among rural and urban elderly. Housing and Society, 32(1), 85-106.
  • Costarella, M., Monteleone, L., Steindler, R and Zuccaro, S. M. (2010). Decline of physical and cognitive conditions in the elderly measured through the functional reach test and the mini-mental state examination. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 50(3), 332-337.
  • Coughlin, J. F. and Pope, J. (2008). Innovations in health, wellness, and aging-in-place. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, 27(4), 47-52.
  • Gale, C. R., Cooper, C. and Sayer, A. A. (2016). Prevalence and risk factors for falls in older men and women: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Age and Ageing, 45(6), 789-794.
  • Landi, F., Onder, G., Carpenter, I., Cesari, M., Soldato, M. andBernabei, R. (2007). Physical activity prevented functional decline among frail community-living elderly subjects in an international observational study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 60, 518–524.
  • Liu, L., Stroulia, E., Nikolaidis, I., Miguel-Cruz, A. and Rincon, A. R. (2016). Smart homes and home health monitoring technologies for older adults: A systematic review. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 91(44-59).
  • Park, S., Han, Y., Kim, B. and Dunkle, R. E. (2017). Aging in place of vulnerable older adults: Person–environment fit perspective. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 36(11), 1327-1350.
  • Trombetti, A., Reid, K. F., Hars, M., Herrmann, F. R., Pasha, E., Phillips, E. M. and Fielding, R. A. (2016). Age-associated declines in muscle mass, strength, power, and physical performance: Impact on fear of falling and quality of life. Osteoporosis International, 27(2), 463-471.
  • Westerterp, K. R. and Meijer, E. P. (2001). Physical activity and parameters of aging: A physiological perspective. The Journals of Gerontology Series A, 56(2), 7-12.
  • Wiles, J. L., Leibing, A., Guberman, N., Reeve, J. and Allen, R. E. S. (2011). The meaning of “aging in place” to older people. The Gerontologist, 52(3), 357-366.

 

 

Kristopher M. Struckmeyer, Ph.D.

Assistant State Specialist for Caregiving

 

Gina Peek, Ph.D.

Housing and Consumer Extension Specialist

 

Aditya Jayadas, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

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