Let’s face it: we’re getting older and living longer than ever before. More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. A recent U.S. census report forecasts that by 2018, senior citizens will outnumber children for the first time in our history.
In fact, by 2030 there will be approximately 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65. That number is more than twice what it was in 2000, and represents nearly 20 percent of the entire projected U.S. population.
Not only are people getting older, they are staying old for longer periods. Many are in relatively good health. But even healthy older people tend to have greater needs than healthy younger people.
What is Aging in Place?
Aging in Place describes a style of life that allows an older person to stay in the home of their choice for as long as possible. It is becoming an increasingly popular choice for America’s rapidly aging population.
In the past, if someone had difficulty living alone it meant it was time to move in with family or go to a nursing home. But for manyt people, that is no longer the case. Today, people can live on their own for many years, even as they grow older and start needing help with everyday tasks.
Challenges of Aging
Currently, the majority of Americans age 65 and older are living either with a spouse or living alone in their own home. Many struggle with everyday tasks, however, that decrease their quality of life and independence. This includes difficulties with daily activities, such as getting around their home easily, driving safely, home upkeep and health maintenance.
Making modifications in the home to allow older people to live safely and comfortably is the hallmark of aging in place. It is also the most affordable way to continue to live independently.
Planning is Crucial
The focus of planning for Aging in Place is to help seniors ensure they can live where they choose and get any help they need along the way. This allows an elderly person to maintain their quality of life for as long as possible.
In order to do that, a good plan that focuses on quality of life and covers personal needs, the home, finances and other items should be created as early as possible. This plan should be reviewed over time as living and health situations change.
Aging in Place does not mean people have to do everything themselves; that’s where the plan comes in. It means people plan how their needs are met, who meets them and when. Planning allows people to ensure their quality of life and live it out in dignity, without being a burden to their family or community.
Family and Community Benefits
Planning is also for those caring for an elderly parent or loved one. They can be the most help by working with seniors to ensure their needs are met and wishes are respected. It also will help families give the right level of care and ensure their dignity is kept intact.
Aging in Place isn’t the answer to every problem people will have as they age, nor will it guarantee that your family or community will not face difficulties in meeting a senior’s needs in the future. It is about people taking on the responsibility to control their life.
Chronic Health Problems
If people develop a chronic health condition, like diabetes, arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease, Aging in Place means more that just staying put. It means having a place to live that is safe and fits with an individual’s abilities and budget.
Certainly, there will always be a need for skilled nursing facilities, because there will always be frail older adults who require the level of care only they can suitably offer. However, there may be just as many people who could successfully and happily stay in place —whatever place they choose —at great cost savings.
For an aging person, the move to a skilled nursing facility is a costly one. Nationwide, the average annual cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility was $78,110, according to a 2011 MetLife survey.
Financial burden is not the only cost felt by seniors who move into these facilities. Whether they are leaving their home where they raised their families or leaving their community were they had hoped to live the rest of their lives with a degree of autonomy, the move costs them their freedom and independence.
Aging in Place Experts
If you have any questions related to Aging in Place, give us a call. We can discuss your personal situation and various options available to you and your family.