Home is where the heart is but what happens if as we age we can’t keep up the house like we use to, or get to the grocery store or to the doctor’s office. Then is it practical to continue living in our own homes? Is aging in your own home the best choice?
The impact of aging-in-place is taking on new meaning as our country faces the age wave of the baby boom generation entering that age of 65 when aging seems to take on new meaning. For many of us living in Colorado, we live in communities designed around the use of cars so walking to stores, banks, medical offices may not be practical either from a physical ability aspect or pure distance. The idea of a neighborhood dramatically changed after World War II when the individual ownership of a car became a reality. We were no longer connected to our neighbors by a front porch and suburbs were the place to live, not in the city where support services were within walking distance.
Today as our society ages and wants to continue living in our own homes the senior support industry is growing to meet the needs of a new aging population with their own specific needs. In a recent study by AARP 90% of those age 50 and over surveyed expressed a desire to remain in their own homes and never relocate to an alternative residential setting such as a retirement community.
Most all of us indeed want to remain in our homes but a study done by the Health and Human Services of the federal government found that at a minimum, 60% of those over the age of 65 would need some form of long term care assistance ( assisted living, nursing homes, extended stays at rehabilitation centers) during their lives.
With this in mind it then becomes evident that a combination of home remodeling/modifications may need to take place in order that the physical structure we call home can help facilitate our aging selves for as long as practical while we reach out to obtain assistance from care providers in the community who can help us with those tasks we find either too difficult or impossible to accomplish without the assistance of others. The construction industry is gearing up to meet the needs of an aging population by adopting to the concept of “Universal Design” or “Aging Facilitated Construction” where by housing is made as elder supportive as possible. These concepts include minimizing steps, non-slip flooring, non-glare lighting, wider hallways and where possible sit-in showers with minimal step overs and lower bath and kitchen cabinets which can be accessed by those with limited reaching capabilities. These ideas are only a few of the elements which can help us remain in our homes as long as possible.
We can supplement our own abilities to do for ourselves by bringing in assistance such as non-medical home helpers to do such tasks as laundry, assistance with bathing, dressing, meal preparation and transporting us to necessary appointments such as medical and dental services. Should medical conditions be a concern there is a wealth of medical in-home care agencies who can come in to dress wounds, perform nursing assessments and provide recommendations on treatment options, perform nutritional and diabetic education and provide a critical supportive eye on your health so that remaining in your home is enhanced and medical issues do not become larger issues requiring you to leave your home in order to acquire medical assistance.
The goal for most of us is indeed remaining in our “home, sweet home” and with a growing awareness of home modifications and community services becoming easily available we may indeed be able to enjoy our homes as a safe, secure living environment.