Aging Well Partners
- Mar 20
- 2 min
AGING IN PLACE & DOING IT WELL: SOME APPROACHES TO ENSURE LONGEVITY AT HOME
Continuing to live in your own home as you age is an ideal scenario for most of us. Unsurprisingly, while it’s something we may wish for, it’s rarely assured.
“I’ll know when it’s time to do something,” is what most people think when they consider making household accommodations for our aging selves. Yet the decision to make changes typically occurs after an unexpected at-home incident. By then, options have declined.
To age well in place, to be in familiar surroundings that are safe and comfortable, to be where family and friends can easily visit and know that you are secure and content – all of that takes thought and preparation. For most, it’s not a major task and may only involve some adjustments and fine-tuning.
Let me elaborate a bit.
PLANNING AHEAD AND BEING HARD-NOSED ABOUT IT
Probably the most difficult part of aging in place well is taking a look at your surroundings with a fresh perspective (and maybe even a little ruthlessness as you consider the environment you love).
Imagine if you were one day to need a walker or wheelchair, is there a clear path that allows you to get around? Were you to have difficulty climbing steps, are handrails in place around your home? Are there places inside and out that could use more light? What about small rugs that might pose a tripping hazard?
Looking at your home critically is not easy. And even if your health right now is optimal and mobility issues aren’t a concern, thinking about future needs is wise – it can easily make the difference between remaining at home or having to move.
IDENTIFYING AND IMPLEMENTING MODIFICATIONS
A key element of aging in place is to make your home as useable as possible. This can involve logical and often simple, low-cost adaptations to existing conditions.
It can mean, for example:
*Installing night lights, motion sensor lights, and brighter light bulbs
*Replacing doorknobs with easier-to-grasp lever handles
*Putting grab bars in the bathroom to prevent falls
*Removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs that are not securely tacked down.
More costly projects can include:
*A walk-in shower
*Installing a chair lift especially in multilevel homes
The goal here is first to create a comprehensive list of potential home modifications, and then prioritize items on the list in three categories: a) modifications to implement now for your safety and comfort, b) modifications to implement later, and c) modifications on hold, i.e., the “wish list.”
Once completed, it’s essential to get started on the first category.
IDENTIFY A SUPPORT NETWORK
It’s important for aging adults to talk to their children (or siblings or relatives or others) about your plans to age in place. In addition to informing them about physical changes being made to your home, the conversation reinforces your desires and expectations. Particularly important, it provides an opportunity to talk about any aging-related concerns (yours and theirs) and, specifically, how you might at some point need to rely on them for support.
Depending on your own interest and circumstances, it can be helpful to put together a list of resources that you and/or friends and family can contact should the need arise. This can include contact information on physicians, pharmacies, homecare providers, financial institutions, estate planning representatives, etc.
Jacqueline Silverman, CSA, CAPS, is the founder of San Diego’s Aging Advisory Services which specializes in aging-in-place guidance. She offers a range of support services and a vetted list of resources. Website: www.agingadvisoryservices.com Contact: Jacqueline@agingadvisoryservices.com