What is Aging in Place?
Aging in place is defined as a person's ability to comfortably live in their own home and community safely and independently as they continue to grow older. It is the process of a person choosing to adapt or modify their environment, habits, and/or routines, to overcome challenges caused by illness, injury, or when certain skills and abilities naturally diminish over time. Some common issues associated with aging include:
Reduced eyesight and hearing capacity
Decreased muscle mass and strength
Decreased bone density, which increases the risk of broken bones
Reduced mobility and flexibility
As seniors become more frail with age, especially when compounded by medical conditions that affect strength, balance, vision or cognition, they may have difficulty navigating the home in which they have lived independently for years prior. Stairs may become more difficult to traverse, doorways and hallways may be too narrow to access if seniors require a wheelchair or walker later in life, and the layout of the home may not be conducive to the needs of the person as they become older. In order to continue living independently in the community, seniors or their caregivers may need to adapt the environment to make daily activities safer and easier to perform. These adaptations can be simple modifications, such as removing throw rugs to prevent tripping, improving lighting in stairways, or installing handrails and grab bars for support in key locations in the home. Modifications can also be significant home remodels and renovations that completely change the layout of the home. The scale and scope of an aging in place project is completely dependent on the client's needs, as well projected difficulties that may arise over the years as they become older. Enabled Living's Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists (CAPS) will walk you through the process of modifying your environment and discuss various aspects of aging that should be considered when planning your project.
Aging in Place Clients Enabled Living Serves
Clients with immediate needs due to an abrupt or traumatic change in their health
Individuals who have experienced an abrupt or traumatic change in their health, such as a stroke, spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury, which requires immediate accommodations and modifications to their home in order to facilitate safety, accessibility, or function. These people are often in the process of adjusting to a new way of life, such as using a wheelchair for personal mobility, and may require environmental adaptations that are temporary or permanent depending on their prognosis.
Clients with chronic or progressive medical conditions
Individuals with chronic or progressive medical conditions, such as Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, and Dementia, that impacts their safety, accessibility, or functional independence while performing activities in the home. These clients must consider the affects of their medical condition over time along with the natural decline of aging and often require special modifications to the home in order to continue living independently.
Clients without urgent medical needs
Individuals who are not currently experiencing significant health related problems, but want to plan ahead. These clients may anticipate potential problems in the future or have multi-generational members in the household with different levels of function. Incorporating aging in place solutions, such as universal design features, which seamlessly integrate practical function with elegant design to improve quality of life, access, and efficiency while performing daily tasks in the home is a great option for these clients. Learn more about universal design below.
Benefits of Aging in Place
Community-based assisted living facilities are often considered by caregivers and family members when the question arises about a senior's ability to continue living independently. These facilities typically have excellent amenities, but often have substantial costs that can be financially taxing for seniors and their families. According to Genworth's 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the national average for costs associated with an assisted living facility was over $4,000 a month. These costs can also increase dramatically if seniors require facilities with specialized services, such as memory care or nursing assistance.
Research shows that the majority of people who are 50+ years old want to stay in their current home and maintain social connections with friends and loved ones in their community. Aging in place is a cost saving alternative for seniors rather than downsizing or moving to an assisted living or retirement community. Although aging in place comes with it's own costs, such as home modifications or hiring in-home caregivers, it is typically less expensive than moving to an assisted living facility.
“Most people want to stay in their own homes, and aging in place is substantially less expensive than a nursing home or other long-term-care options.” - AOTA Executive Director Fred Somers.