Staying in familiar surroundings is a priority for many older people. But aging in place is more challenging than it seems. With age and deteriorating health, maintaining independence can become increasingly difficult.
Every situation is different. It’s important to assess your situation and be rational and weigh the benefits of aging against the realities of loneliness and depression experienced by many older people who live alone.
So here is a concise checklist to help you determine if you are ready to age in place and to help you progress to a stage where you can easily live out your life at home.
What To Check For
Check With Your Family
When minor health problems arise, older people are more likely to put the problem aside and work it out on their own rather than saying they are worried. Until a serious event such as a fall occurs, or you mistakenly take your medication and send it to the emergency room, which is more common. Therefore, having stress with older loved ones is important. Just because you need help doesn’t mean you can’t grow old on the spot.
On the other hand, as a person who wishes to age in place, it is important to learn how your family will feel about your decision and how they will be able to support you, as you will need every help and support you can have on your aging-in-place journey.
Check If You Need Support
Activities of daily living are one of the most affected aging problems and one of the hardest challenges to solve among older people and their families. If you want to age on the fly, it’s important to know if you need and can get support.
Here is a checklist to see if you’ll need support to achieve your goal of staying home, and ask yourself if it will be available to you.
- Do you find it difficult to get up from your favorite chair?
- Are you subconsciously wearing the same clothes more often than usual?
- You have a few new scrapes and bruises; do you brush them off and blame your clumsiness?
- Can you keep your hair clean and your beard clean-shaven?
- Is your home starting to get cluttered with dust and piles of mail/garbage?
- Can you go to the supermarket and cook for yourself?
- Do you look stable enough to safely get yourself in and out of the shower?
Check Your Health
If you are determined to age in place, you must try to remain as healthy as possible, so it is important to know your current health and if your current health routine will be appropriate for maintaining your well-being while aging in place.
To know, you may ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you making efforts to stay active?
- Are you eating nutritious food?
- Are you keen about going to regular appointments with your doctors, such as an ophthalmologist or dentist?
- Are you experiencing good mental health? For example, do you have any symptoms of depression or anxiety? If so, do you take steps to deal with them? Are you limiting your alcohol intake to a safe amount?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you limit alcohol if you are taking prescription drugs that may interfere with alcohol?
- Do you regularly consult your doctor about existing conditions and how best to treat them?
Check If Your Home Is In Good Shape
The shape of the house is an important aspect of aging. Even people who have lived in the same home for decades may need to adjust their homes later to accommodate their changing physical abilities. Many seniors add accessible gear here and there to spend a little more on gear purchases. Home updates can be as simple as adding a railing for going up and down stairs or as complex as installing a stair lift or a zero-entry shower. Aging on the fly means doing your homework, especially for you.
Check If You Have A Good Support Group and Community
Do you have close relatives or trusted friends who will come to check on you? If not, can you hire a home nurse? Keep a busy social life, so you don’t experience loneliness at home. Are you keen on volunteering? If not, you should consider volunteering. Volunteering is associated with staying connected to the community and improving well-being, longevity, and contentment among older adults.
Did You Know?
“People who are more socially connected to family, friends, to the community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected.”Dr. Robert Waldinger, Psychiatrist and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development
Check Your Safety
Older adults are more likely to fall. Falls in older people are more serious and can cause broken legs, hip bones, or other serious injuries. So it should be as secure as possible. Make sure your bathroom has a non-slip bath mat, and if your feet become unsteady, consider purchasing safety equipment such as handrails.
Did You Know?
There are nearly 36 million falls reported among older adults yearly—resulting in more than 32,000 deaths.Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
To check if your home is safe to age in, here is a simple Home Safety Checklist:
Are the floors free of electrical cords that may cause accidents?
Look out for electrical cords where your loved one could trip and fall. Move them out of the way, or tape them to the wall.
Are all area rugs secure?
Ensure a mat is under the rug to keep the edges from shifting or curling. Slippery mats and wavy edges can be dangerous for older people who are not confident in their feet.
Is there a medical alert system set up in the house?
Having a medical alert system at home if you wish to age at home is a must since you may be more vulnerable to accidents and medical emergencies. Medical alert systems are available as devices worn around the neck or wrist for emergencies.
However, these systems may be uncomfortable for some older people. For those seniors, make sure your phone is accessible from many parts of your home, at least in an emergency.
Are there smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in the house?
Ensure your home’s smoke, carbon monoxide alarms, and batteries are charged. If you need help with testing, contact the manufacturer of your alarm system.
If you or your loved ones do not have smoke or carbon monoxide alarms in your home, install them as soon as possible. The National Fire Protection Association advocates placing carbon monoxide and smoke alarms centrally outside a separate bedroom near the bedroom.
Do you have a medicine cabinet that can be kept clean and refreshed with new medicine?
A medicine cabinet to keep any medications you need and will need in the future is a must for someone who wants to age in place. It is also important that you or anyone can help maintain the medicine cabinet.
Is the bathroom slip or fall-proof?
Bathrooms can be slippery places. If you or a loved one has unsteady footing, we recommend you get an evaluation from an occupational therapist to see if your bathroom needs grab rails. A home appraisal can show you who can help you.
Are there safety handrails by the stairs?
All stairs and stairs inside and outside your home and loved ones should be equipped with handrails so that you can safely climb up and down if you have trouble using the stairs without assistance. We encourage you to learn how care can help you.
Check the available transportation options for you
As we age, we become inherently dependent on others for transportation. Older people don’t need to be completely mobile outside the home to stay at home, but reliable transportation is essential. Proximity to convenient public transportation, families with cars nearby, paved sidewalks, sidewalks, and even carpool opportunities can be a lifeline for seniors when they need to leave home.
So, if you decide to age at home, make sure you have proper transportation.
Bottomline: Sure Signs You’ll Make A Great Candidate to Age in Place
In sum, you or your loved one will be a great candidate for aging in place if:
- Your house is accessible and allows for easy movement.
- You keep your home tidy and largely clutter-free.
- You have at least one bathroom that is “elderly-friendly.”
- You have an emergency response system.
- You move and perform daily activities.
- You’re ready to use comforts and assistance to age in place.
- You use preventative medicine.
- Your kitchen has no obvious indications that you cannot maintain a healthy diet.
- You passed the “medication management” test.
On the other hand, even after fully verifying you check all the boxes on this guideline, it is still important to consult with the people you love, as this decision can be equally difficult for loved ones, caretakers, and, most of all, for yourself.
So make sure that everyone is ready in every aspect to ensure that the person who wishes to age in place can do it comfortably, safely, and productively.
To help you better decide if aging in place is the right option for you or a family member, it is also important to check the most common challenges faced by seniors who choose to age in place and see if you have the available resources to solve them.
It can also help you decide better to compare aging in place with other available options and confirm which may benefit you most.