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Is It Really Possible to Age in Place?

Bigstock-Couple-running-bookshop-13904324Nine out of ten older Americans told AARP that they wanted to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Known as “aging in place,” staying home instead of moving to a retirement community or a skilled nursing home, is a welcome alternative for many. However, it takes some advance planning.

If you live in a center-hall colonial with a long stairway from the first floor to the second and you want to age in place, you may have to think about moving to a ranch-style home. That’s just for starters, says The Washington Post’s article, “Aging in place helps you to avoid a retirement community or nursing home.”

You might start by remodeling or retrofitting your home to suit senior-specific issues, such as decreased mobility or impaired eyesight (think replacing a bathtub with a walk-in shower or improved lighting). Some seniors add a first-floor bedroom and bathroom and an outdoor ramp onto their homes. Other changes can include wider doorways (the better to potentially accommodate a wheelchair or walker), a bathroom with grab bars and an easy-access shower.

This is known as universal design, which means building or remodeling a home to accommodate all ages and abilities. It can usually be implemented or planned by builders or contractors who are Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), an educational designation offered by the National Association of Home Builders.

Even if you can’t afford a major remodel, there some simple changes you can do, like installing shower grab bars or improving interior and exterior lighting to avoid falls and other accidents. You can also secure throw rugs to the floor with special two-sided tape to prevent slips.

You can speak with an elder law attorney about health agencies, resources for financial assistance, elder abuse prevention, as well as estate planning, Medicare, Medicaid and other state programs.

Keep busy by taking yoga at the local rec center, business or computer classes at the public library, or even getting a roommate to help combat loneliness and keep feeling connected and emotionally healthy.

For dining, in addition to the community-based food delivery from Meals on Wheels, you can get restaurant food or groceries delivered to your home by services, such as Uber Eats, Caviar and Peapod.

If you prefer to cook at home, but would just as well skip shopping altogether, you can use a meal prep companies, like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, to deliver the ingredients. That’s a convenient way to keep eating healthy and fresh food, without having to make a trip to the local market.

Reference: The Washington Post (July 1, 2019) “Aging in place helps you to avoid a retirement community or nursing home”