According to AARP, more than 90 percent of people over the age of 65 want to remain at home as they get older. This popular choice of aging in place is an excellent way to help seniors retain their independence, but many families fail to consider the many factors that help determine whether their loved ones can safely remain at home.
If your parents wish to age in place, you need to evaluate their needs with an eye toward the future and take into account a number of things that will determine whether aging in place is a viable option.
Examine Personal Considerations
- Proximity/relationship to family and friends. Do friends and family live nearby? Are they available to help your loved one? Have candid conversations before they become necessary to ensure a support network is in place.
- Temperament. Are your parents self-sufficient and do they enjoy living alone? Are they active and social, willing and able to extend themselves to connect with others, or are they introverted and prone to isolation?
Evaluate the Physical Home
The safety and practical comfort of a home for an aging loved one is a major concern. S.A.F.E can adapt seniors’ homes after conducting a home evaluation that looks at the following:
- Stairs/levels. This is one of the more obvious perils for seniors, and falls are the number one cause of preventable hospitalizations.
- Lighting. Easily overlooked, adequate lighting is very important.
- Doors and doorways. Thresholds that aren’t flush to the floor, glass sliding doors that may be overlooked, and doorways too narrow to navigate in a wheelchair can be hazards.
- Hallways. Are hallways wide enough for a wheelchair?
- Flooring. Slippery floors or area rugs can be trip hazards.
- Bathrooms. Shower and tubs that require seniors lift their legs to enter or exit are common dangers. Glass shower doors, counter and toilet heights, and slippery flooring are also concerns.
- Access. A long walk, hills or steps to enter the home can quickly become a problem as a person ages.
- Kitchen. Examine counter heights, drawers and cabinets for accessibility from a wheelchair or walker.
- Clutter and other hazards. Excessive clutter, which can pile up quickly over a lifetime, can be a safety, fire and hygiene hazard. Also look for things like loose wires, an abundance of breakable knick-knacks and closely spaced furniture, all of which can become problems for seniors navigating their home.
- Maintenance. Older homes often require a lot of maintenance and aren’t always built with seniors in mind.” Envision things like cleaning out gutters and dusting crown molding. Is it feasible or will you need to hire a housekeeper or other outside help?
Assess the Community
Next to personal considerations and the home itself, the actual community is almost as important to the aging in place process. Is the home close to essential services like healthcare, shopping, transportation, entertainment, etc.? Is the neighborhood safe?
For many seniors, aging in place is a realistic option, as long as you plan thoughtfully well ahead of time. Contact us at S.A.F.E. if you want to discuss whether we can be service during the review process.