The vast majority of seniors say that they want to spend their so-called “golden years” in their own homes. Assisted living facilities are not an option for those who want to socialize with neighbors, family and friends, are able to get around on their own and feel safe and secure in their own homes.
A poll conducted by Capital Caring Health, a nonprofit provider of elder health, and the online health website, WebMD, found that “88 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 80 said it was very or somewhat important to them that they live in their homes as long as possible.” But the reality is that not all of them are prepared.
“Aging in place is trending due in part to the fact that growing old is not as debilitating as it used to be,” said Gerry Hafer, Executive Director of the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens. “The acceptance of healthier lifestyles and the benefits of modern medicine have helped to convince many seniors to stay at home.”
There is a caveat, of course, said Hafer, and that means you need to make an assessment of what you are able to do by yourself and what you can’t do.
“The most critical issue you need to deal with is your health,” he said. “Do you suffer from a debilitating illness? In fact, making the decision may require a conversation with your doctor.”
Here’s a checklist courtesy of the National Institute on Aging [NIA]:
- Are you able to take care of yourself by yourself
- Do you need help with household chores
- Are you able to prepare healthy meals on your own
- Do you have the financial resources to age in place
- Are you able to remember to take your meds as required
The NIA report also suggests that you “Be prepared for a medical emergency: If you were to suddenly become sick and unable to speak for yourself, you probably would want someone who knows you well to decide on your medical care. To make sure this happens, think about giving someone you trust permission to discuss your health care with your doctor and make necessary decisions. Learn about health care advance directives. Talk with your doctor about whether you should get a medical alert ID bracelet or necklace.”
According to AMAC’s Hafer, once you pass muster and become a candidate for aging in place, it’s a good idea to take a tour of “your place” to make sure it’s safe. He suggests making a room by room assessment as recommended by the AgingCare website to ensure that your home environment supports your lifestyle now and in the future.