Although many elders want to stay in their homes for as long as feasible, pricing, accessibility, and weak connections to health care may make doing so challenging. The older population is expected to increase quickly.
If you are part of the majority who want to age at home, it is important to be aware of the common challenges associated with aging in place and determine whether you are affected by them.
Hence, we summarized the most common challenges of aging in place in this article for you.
Did You Know?
It is predicted that by 2035, there will be 17 million older homes with at least one person with a mobility limitation for whom stairs, conventional toilet layouts, and narrow entrances and corridors may present issues.Joint Center For Housing Studies, Harvard University
There will be more people with disabilities living in households as the population ages. However, only 3.5 percent of homes in the U.S. have a zero-step entrance, one-floor living arrangements, and spacious entrances and hallways that accommodate a wheelchair.
Specifically, some of the common housing challenges associated with aging in place are as follows;
- Some home improvements to assure safety for older people who want to age in place can be expensive.
- A sizable portion of homeowners will require financial support to make these adjustments.
- Nearly 10% of households with elderly homeowners currently have total assets, including the value of their homes, of less than $50,000.
- Future income, wealth, and debt trends indicate that older persons may have even fewer assets (excluding the value of their homes, 39% have less than $50,000).
- Renters may have more difficulty getting the right home modifications for their safety, especially if they reside in older, less convenient buildings.
- Renters—whose median household income is only $6,000—typically have to cover these costs independently. Landlords could also demand that the changes be taken off at the renters’ expense when vacating.
- Finding a contractor or handyman to perform the necessary modifications can be difficult for some people.
When no one in the household has a disability that limits their mobility, planning can help to lessen the financial and emotional burden of these changes. For instance, when remodeling a bathroom, adding reinforced walls can make adding grab bars much simpler, and opting for a walk-in shower can eliminate the need for one later.
Find the right resources or support that connect you to reliable aides to evaluate your home and recruit qualified personnel to meet your needs. You may also look for tax credits, grants, low- or no-interest loans, or Medicaid waivers that could assist in paying for necessary improvements that you may need.
Read also: (Financial Resources That Can Help You Age In Place)
Physical and Cognitive Challenges
An individual’s independence depends on their freedom of movement, but what happens when their mobility is restricted?
As stated by the U.S. According to the Census Bureau, two-thirds of people over 65 who reported having trouble walking or climbing reported having at least one handicap. The capacity to carry out daily duties like washing, dressing, cooking, eating, or remembering to take medications is sometimes hampered by hearing loss, vision abnormalities, or cognitive difficulties. Driving could become risky, and doing household tasks and yard care could become physically impossible.
Planning a care plan for yourself can help with physical and cognitive challenges. Home care services are also available for older people to help them with routines that older people may struggle with.
It is also important to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle as much as possible to lessen the risks of other illnesses and diseases common to older people. Adapt expert-recommended routine that helps in slowing down the aging process.
Providing Long-Term Care
By 2035, 12 million households with older adults are expected to have at least one member with a self-care handicap; many will need daily support with personal care to remain in their current residences. This care is increasingly provided in people’s homes. As health and housing partners collaborate to provide care to patients at a cheaper cost, the use of nursing homes has decreased during the past 20 years.
Some of the main challenges in providing long-term care for those aging in place are;
- The cost of long-term care is currently high. For a home health assistant who works five days a week, the average monthly cost is $3,813.
- The typical elderly renter may be incapable of paying for these services in the long run.
- Many older homeowners have limited resources and, as mentioned above, may need these to make changes to their properties.
Due in part to high expenditures, family members, especially spouses, offer the majority of support nowadays. Planning for aging in place for individuals should consider the potential expenses of paying for in-home support and care, but policymakers may also play a part in fostering innovation in providing affordable care at home. There are also available programs for older adults which help cover some of these costs.
Ensuring Housing is Affordable
The capacity to age in place will continue to be significantly hampered by affordability. The cost burden on older households reached 31% in 2014. The Joint Center predicts that by 2035, 17.1 million older households will be housing cost-burdened, with 8.5 million of these households spending more than half of their income on housing.
Older tenants are more likely to be cost-burdened due to lower salaries. However, owners are more prevalent and make up the bulk of cost-burdened older households, with homeownership rates for older households approaching 80%. Owners who carry mortgages into later life in particular—a pattern that has grown over the past 20 years—are more likely to experience prohibitive housing expenditures. Families with high housing costs may manage by making sacrifices in other areas, such as food, healthcare, or transportation. These compromises endanger the health of senior citizens and reduce their prospects for civic participation and service access.
Homeowners may overcome the difficulty of high housing prices by wise and early financial planning, refinancing or reverse mortgages, relief from property taxes, or assistance in improving home energy efficiency and cutting utility costs.
Having limited mobility or being unable to drive safely can make it challenging to leave your house. Even close family members may not detect social isolation as it develops gradually over time, but it can negatively influence your quality of life. The National Institute on Aging claims that loneliness can contribute to mental health problems like anxiety, depression, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, or other types of dementia. Additionally, it can exacerbate or even cause physical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and a compromised immune system.
Technology that permits virtual medical appointments and social engagement, as well as alternate modes of mobility like paratransit or car-sharing services, will be essential. To ensure that older persons can access services and continue to be active members of their communities, people in these lower-density locations, as well as the organizations and governments that support them, will need to consider how to extend programming.
These difficulties do not imply that aging in place is an impracticable or unworthy objective; rather, they indicate that both an individual’s and a society’s degree of planning is required. The first stage is to inform families about their potential physical and financial hardships if they stay in their current residence and the available solutions. Equally important is ensuring local governments recognize and prepare for the difficulties their elderly population will probably confront.
However, alternatives to a current residence may offer some a superior quality of life. As a result, we also need to develop new housing options with various demographics in mind, including low-income renters, that are accessible, close to services and amenities, have flexible space, and offer flexible space. It may be possible to develop homes with similar amenities in the downtowns or centers of small towns and suburbs where older folks already reside to provide alternatives that enable long-term residents to keep ties to their neighborhoods.