We hear a lot about “aging in place”, but what exactly does that mean?
Generally, “aging in place” is the catch all phrase for “I want to stay in my own home as I get older.” Survey after survey shows that Americans do not want to relocate if they can help it. However, many Americans don’t know that aging in place can be a lot more complicated than just living in your home until you pass away.
At Colorado Mobility, our mission is to help people age in place by providing equipment solutions. But that’s getting a head of the conversation.
It’s Not Enough To Just Want To Stay In Your Home
As you age, there are many considerations that need to be taken into account regarding whether you can stay in your home or not.
- What is your overall health?
- What is the health of your spouse/partner?
- How age friendly is your home?
- What support can you depend on in the future?
What Is Your Overall Health?
Do you have a disease like diabetes or COPD? Have you had a hip replaced, or think you may need surgery in the future? How is your balance?
Health considerations might make the decision whether you can age in place for you. If you can no longer walk up stairs because of COPD, and if your house has a stairs (is your laundry room in the basement?), your age in place options could narrow.
What Is The Health Of Your Spouse/Partner?
As stated above, health considerations may make your choices for you and your spouse/partner. If you do not want to live apart, and one of you can no longer live in the home, then a move might be practical.
How Age Friendly Is Your Home?
Colorado is full of staircases. Split level houses, basements, houses built on the sides of hills – Colorado has them all. And they all have stairs, sometimes inside AND outside.
If stairs are a problem, then you will either need to modify your home or move to a place with elevators, or try to find a ranch style house with one level.
How age friendly are your bathrooms? The bathroom is the most-dangerous room in the house for aging Americans. Do you have grab bars around the toilet and in the shower? Do you have a bathtub or a walk-in shower? Glass doors on the shower?
What if you or your spouse/partner need a wheelchair? Are your existing doors wide enough to accommodate the new mode of transport?
Can yo lift yourself out of a chair? Can you get ourself in and out of bed?
These are all crucial questions to ask yourself as you plan to age in place.
What Support Can You Depend On In The Future?
Will your spouse/partner be able to help you in and out of the shower, or in and out of bed?
Do you have children that live nearby? What sort of help will they be if you can’t do things for yourself?
Who will help you prepare meals? What if you need assistance using the toilet?
Who will manage your finances if you can’t?
There Is A lot To Think About
One cannot expect an adult American who has lived 95% of their life independently to just automatically have all the answers about where and how they are going to age. They may WANT to age in place, but as we read above, it might not be in the cards.
The good news is there are a ton of resources out there to help you age in place if that is what you really want. None of the obstacles listed above can preclude you from staying in your home – if you are willing to make adjustments. Some of those adjustments might be major, others might be minor.
In Part 2 of this series, we will get into planning to age in place. We will include solutions to help you.