Cultural norms are changing, and people have started to view aging from a different perspective. A few decades ago, seniors would live with their loved ones until they became critically ill or required specialized care.
Nowadays, home care has taken a new turn to make life better for the elderly. The cost and challenges of assisted living cannot compare to the quality of care one can receive in the comfort of their home. Again, most aged people have a hard time trying to adjust to new environments and rules. If you didnt know the meaning and the critical role that aging in place plays in golden years, keep reading to find out.
What it Means to Age in Place
Aging in place refers to the freedom of staying in a residence of ones choice while enjoying autonomy and comfort no matter the age, ability, or income. Instead of going to a nursing home, a senior person can choose to have their preferred support at home, surrounded by family, assistants, or a friendly community. The needs are bound to change with time. Health issues and social and emotional challenges are better addressed in an intimate setting, creating a balanced life.
What Do the Statistics Say About the Aging Population?
The 2021 Senior Report by Americas Health Rankings indicates that there are over 54 million senior citizens in the US. (1) The number is expected to hit 85.7 million by 2050, translating to about 20% of the total US population. Many older people live with their spouses or alone and are struggling with health issues and routine tasks. Consequently, they endure low-quality life. It is, therefore, important for public health officials, community leaders, and the government to implement measures that will safeguard the well-being of an aging population.
The Importance of Aging in Place
A home is beyond compare. That is why out of every four adults aged 50 and above, three prefer to remain in their residence at old age, according to a national survey posted by AARP (2). The study further suggests that 76% of adults who are 50 years or older wish to stay in their current homes, and 77% want to be with their community for good. However, only 59% are hopeful about aging age in place. Cognitive decline and physical disabilities are the main reasons most older adults lose their sense of independence. Mental health problems leave them with no choice but to go to senior living facilities. It is not easy for family members to choose between facility care and aging in place. But the decision would be easier if everyone understood the benefits of living at home in the golden years. Heres a breakdown of the advantages.
1. Autonomy and Control
A decline in mental and physical health makes life more challenging for the elderly. At some point, they stop being independent and must be reminded to take medicines, and will need assistance in simple tasks. But seniors can still maintain autonomy through friends, relatives, and home care services without leaving their residence. Residing at home guarantees more freedom and independence than relocating to a nursing or residential home.
Older adults aging in place enjoy living on their own terms in a house they are familiar with. Knowing that they are still in control of their personal lives makes them happier and more confident. Furthermore, they can choose and aide and the level of assistance they need. Finding someone to help with finances is a critical consideration because that person must have the elders interest in mind.
On the other hand, staying in assisted living facilities requires one to give up their daily routine. It means they have to depend on other people to make most of their life decisions. Not to mention, one must abide by group rules, including visitation and meal times. In a senior citizens home, residents become dependent on nurses who also take care of other patients. It gets hard to maintain a sense of dignity in a place where more people require caregiving.
2. Reduced rate of Cognitive Decline
Mental disorders are more rampant among senior citizens and can become a threat when the patient moves to a new environment. Staying with a loved one at home throughout their life could slow down the advancement of dementia and memory loss. Studies show that late-life social activity reduces the rate of cognitive decline by 70%. (3)
The familiarity of an environment plays a critical role in triggering memory. One of the most effective memory stimulators is smell. For instance, the perfume of a loved one can increase memory recall in elderly individuals who have Alzheimers disease. A home provides familiar sounds and sights that could keep an aged parent connected cognitively. But isolated individuals are more likely to lose their memory because theres nothing to give nostalgia in a strange place.
3. Strengthening Social Network
The world Health organization acknowledges the importance of keeping the elderly close to their community. (4) Older adults have the right to remain active in social and civic life. Not only does it improve their well-being, but it also benefits the whole community. (4) Retired people have a lot of wisdom and experiences that the younger generation can learn from.
Unless someone ages in place, they may not be in a position to attend or host social events. Senior citizens are more proactive than other age groups when it comes to volunteering. Supporting their course allows them to stay active in a community. Most communities have senior centers where older adults can volunteer and interact socially. Since old age comes with health issues like obesity and diabetes, being active helps maintain a healthier lifestyle.
4. Familiarity and Comfort
A home is the only place to find people and settings that one cherishes. It is the most important institution in a lifetime, providing a sense of comfort, familiarity, and safety. Most seniors attach a sentimental value to their residential places. They adore their families and environment more than anything else. But a facility doesnt feel like home, and it can mess up their peace of mind.
Research indicates that 56% of people aged between 65 and 74 and 63% of 75 year-olds and above have an emotional attachment to their homes. (5) An intimate place is full of memories and comfort. If the elderly needs assistance with driving and cooking, theres no better place to receive such services than their own homes. There are numerous home care programs available today. Moreover, modern technology makes it easier to get quick medical help through in-home care services.
5. Healthy Environment
Institutional care comprises a group of residents living under the same roof. In some cases, professional caregivers and the support staff also live there. Such setups may pose health and safety risks for seniors. A crowded place makes it easier for infectious diseases to spread. Leaving home, thus, predisposes seniors to life-threatening infections like pneumonia.
People who have lived longer are exposed to chronically high levels of stress in addition to physical health problems. Being subjected to an alien environment is a wrong move as it leaves them more depressed. Lack of enough caregivers and overcrowding make homesick elderly feel neglected. But aging in place allows them to be taken care of by nurses who give personalized attention. In addition to supervision by close family members, at-home care improves the mental well-being of an aged person.
Nursing homes are often costly for the elderly and their families. In a typical nursing facility, residents live in shared rooms that cost about $10,000 $20,000 per year. Those who can afford private rooms spend anything from $75,000 and above. These are just estimated costs, and expenses may escalate where specialized care is needed.
Even though aging in place has its price tag, it is more livable and secure. (6) In most cases, families with seniors hire in-home aides to help with routine errands and housekeeping chores. Regardless of the cost, aging in place is generally less expensive than assisted living.
It should be noted that Medicare doesnt cover the long-term costs of residential home care facilities. However, the Medicare PACE program, available in some areas, can offset some in-home expenses, making staying at home more attractive. Even without this alternative, hiring a health aide and homemaker would cost less. Luckily, most seniors are surrounded by well-wishers who are willing to assist at no cost. Again, local and state organizations offer free meals and transport for senior citizens. Sometimes these programs provide low-cost medical care and shopping.
Fundamental Support for Seniors Aging in Place
Those looking to age at home can get just any kind of assistance they need, usually at a cost. More information is available online or in local area agencies and organizations for the elderly. The most pressing needs are:
a) Personal Care and Household Chores
With age, it becomes harder to bathe, make hair, or dress. Relatives may not always be available, and a trained aide could come in handy. Most seniors also need help with laundry, housekeeping, yard services, and grocery shopping. Many drug stores and grocery shops take phone call orders and deliver them right to an elderlys doorstep.
b) Meal Preparation
Nutrition is crucial in old age. Plus, an aging person would be happier eating together with a loved one or friend. When this is not possible, one can get their meals served at senior centers and houses of worship. This gives a senior a chance to interact with others.
c) Medical Care
Forgetfulness is a common problem with senior people. That is why they need devices to remind them of the time for medication. There are special spill boxes that allow someone to set their weekly dosage. It might also be necessary to hire a home health aide.
d) Financial Management
Health insurance forms and bills can be confusing at the golden age. A trusted relative, a volunteer, or a financial counselor, can help. If a geriatric care manager is involved, the family of the aged person should seek referrals. Checking with the bank is also crucial in this case. Many banks give clients an option to pay mortgage, rent, and utility bills automatically. To avoid fraud, senior citizens must keep their Social Security numbers and bank details confidential.
When and How to Plan for Aging in Place
Aging in place not only maintains the quality of life but also improves it. To live as comfortably as possible, one must make financial plans earlier enough. Planning for retirement is a key consideration for everyone. It is recommended to start saving in the early 20s. The money set aside should include retirement benefits, which will cater to aging in place. Adjustments should be made depending on the changing needs.
The first step is to consider the type of help one might require in the future. Some people live alone while others have spouses and children. It is imperative to consider any illnesses that the caregiver might be having, e.g., depression and diabetes. Consulting a medical practitioner helps to see how such conditions affect the ability of a household member to look after a senior person. Then the family can learn how to find proper support.
When determining whats more important in old age, it is good, to be honest about what a senior and their family can afford. There are a few factors to reckon with:
If specialized care is necessary The lifestyle the elderly prefers for their retired years The available options for emergencies like accidents The type of environment an older person wants to be Supplementary services
It is of utmost importance to plan for aging in place well in advance and before a life-changing scenario occurs. An aging person should make their preferences clear, but it is okay to involve family members in decision-making. Many options are available for the elderly, including biomedical monitoring devices, alarms, medication reminders, robotics, and smart home assistance. Such conveniences allow an aging person to live more independently and safely.
For seniors in South Florida you can find out more about aging in place with home care by calling:Boca Home Care Services(Broward and Palm Beach Counties) at(561) 989-0611Miami Home Care Services(Miami Dade) at(305)749-0445
These are home care registries that match seniors with screened, certified and compassionate home care aides who can provide the assistance you need to live a safe and independent life as you happily age well.
Get in touch with us and well customize a care plan that perfectly suits your needs.
1. https://www.americashealthrankings.org/learn/reports/2021-senior-report/introduction2. https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/community/info-2018/2018-home-community-preference.html3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206295/4. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jar/2012/173247/5.sustainability-12-05723.pdf6. American Society on Aging (ASA)https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/info-2014/aarp-ppi-survey-what-makes-a-community-livable.html