Elderly Housing – Aging in Place

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,513
    Mary Alexander with Home Instead Senior Care provides information about various housing options and how to choose the best one for your parents. This video will focus on how your parents might be able to stay in their own home, otherwise known as aging in place.

    Mary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care, and today I'm talking about the various senior housing options and how to choose the best one for your parents. Right now, we are going to discuss how your parents might be able to stay in their own home, otherwise known as aging in place.

    When we were children we often can't wait to be independent. We all believe that making it on our own is a sign of maturity, capability, and success. That desire to remain independent never goes away and is one of the few things that seniors really cling to. While being independent can happen in living situations outside the home, let's talk about what's needed to ascertain whether aging in place makes sense for your parents.

    Aging in place enables seniors live safely and comfortably in their own homes or other primary residences. This option utilizes some or all of the following, special housing design for seniors, the installation of safety and convenience equipment, and the use of services that enable the senior to remain at home.

    The first conversation to have with your parents is to have them honestly and openly answer ten questions about their living situation. Some of the questions refer to universal design, which refers to a set of National Association of Home Builders' guidelines. These guide lines help determine if a home is easily habitable, no matter what the age of the occupants or they are handicaps.

    If a home fits universal design standards it usually means it has ramps or doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs or carriages, and a room on the first floor that can start as a playroom and be a future bedroom and which also happens to be near a bathroom with a walk-in shower versus a tub. Those are just a few examples of universal design, but that should give you a general idea of what it means.

    Now let's go through those ten questions to ask your parents. First, how important is remaining close to family and friends? Second, how much of a desire is there to stay in your familiar places such as stores, restaurants and entertainment? Third, is the cost of making the home safe and comfortable an important driver? Fourth, how comfortable would they be living in a new surrounding?

    Fifth, is the current home a long-term destination where they plan to spend the rest of their lives? Sixth, is the current home a temporary or intermediate living arrangement? Seventh, has the current home been constructed to universal design principles? Eighth, if not, can it be adapted for universal design? Ninth, how much can they afford to modify their home? And ten, how much are they willing to invest to make their residents aging-friendly?

    If your parents' answers to those questions point to truly wanting to remain at home then their next thing to do is talk about the advantages and disadvantages of aging in place. First, let's list the advantages.

    Aging in place maintains a familiar environment for your parents, fosters community continuity, maintains your parents' valuable social networks, can provide a significant cost savings over other options, strengthens families by remaining close together, and promotes physical and mental wellbeing. If your parents live in an apartment building or housing complex with lots of other seniors, a naturally occurring retirement community might develop which could provide opportunities for residents to band together to access services at a reduced cost.

    Of course, every option that has advantages has disadvantages too. Let's talk about some of the disadvantages of aging in place.

    First, your parents may need to make an investment in home equipment and home modifications. Depending upon the extent and nature of modifications performed the cost could be high. When it comes to making those improvements the lead time maybe lengthy as much as weeks or months for determining the exact needs, finding a contractor, and completing the modifications.

    Another disadvantage maybe that your parents will be resistant to modifications and the installation of helpful technology. That might seem illogical, especially if they want to remain at home. But the unknown is often feared, and they might think that the changes needed, will make their home less familiar.

    If this is the case, it's important to remind them that without home modification structural barriers may present challenges and contribute to falls and injuries, potentially resulting in their having to move to another location.

    In the end, it's best to choose this option if your parents are functional on all activities of daily living which include eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, maintaining continence, and transferring, meaning getting out of a bed or a chair. If limited assistance is required, then the prospect is good for sustained independent living.

    The average annual cost of aging in place varies depending on what support services and equipment is needed to make the home safe and livable. One thing to keep in mind is that Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists trained and certified by the National Association of Home Builders are knowledgeable in addressing the special needs of older people and should be consulted if you need to make renovations to the existing home.

    If you and your parents decide that aging in place is for them, it's also important to discuss that there may come a time when they must move on. Some considerations affecting that decision include, when it is no longer feasible for them to remain at home, when more skilled or professional senior care services are necessary to enable them to live safely at home, when frequent around-the-clock supervision is needed and when significant medical assistance is needed.

    If it is decided that your parents would be best suited living in another situation, one option is living with family; also known as family care. Let's talk about that in the next video.