We are using the term "aging in place" in reference to living where you have lived for many years, or to living in a non-healthcare environment, and using products, services and conveniences to enable you to not have to move as circumstances change. More recently "Aging in place" is a term used in marketing by those in the rapidly evolving senior housing industry. CCRCs, (Continuing Care Retirement Communities), by definition offer the chance to age in place, but first you must move to their community to "start aging". Multi-level campuses market "Independent Living", "Assisted Living" and perhaps Alzheimer's care and Skilled Nursing in one location, and claim to offer the opportunity to "age in place." But again you must move there first. In many cases you must also move from one wing of the campus to another to receive the increased services.
Here we address issues and needs related to "aging in place", without first relocating.
A NORC is a community or neighborhood where residents remain for years, and age as neighbors, until a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community develops. A NORC may refer to a specific apartment building, or a street of old single family homes. Residents would just have stayed and just aged.
It is possible to band together and develop, or seek help to develop, access to services to aid those needing assistance, thereby retaining the highest quality of life for all residents as they age.
Fair housing laws provide for a complex with 80% of its residents over 55, to become officially age restricted. Another classification for restricted age is for 100% of residents to be above the age of 62, but this is rare in an evolving NORC.
For many years the law required an age restricted community to offer significant amenities and services if it was age restricted. That is no longer the case, but to compete, and attract residents, we still see most age restricted communities offering amenities and services to serve their residents.
A significant concern as people grow older is that they may have to leave their home. This would mean leaving behind a comfortable setting familiar community and many memories. In addition a certain amount of control is lost when one leaves home. This "control" provides the underpinning to our feelings of dignity, quality of life and independence. One's home is a strong element in that sense of security.
Most American seniors desire to stay in their homes for the rest of their
lives. In fact an AARP survey found this number to be greater than 80%
of seniors. This "stay at home" approach is also known as "Aging
in Place" Several reasons are cited for this strong Aging in Place
preference. These include:
"Aging in place" successfully requires planning. To accommodate physical, mental, and psychological changes that may accompany aging, physical changes should be made in your home.
Contrary to popular belief, most American seniors live independently
while maintaining strong relationships with family and friends. Their
personalities remain relatively stable throughout their lives. Depression
occurs less in uninstitutionalized seniors than among young adults.
Increased likelihood of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension,
Mental process changes
These changes may lead to difficulties in interacting with one's living environment. These include:
Decreased mobility and dexterity
Decreased strength and stamina
Reduced sensory acuity: vision, hearing, thermal sensitivity, touch, smell
However some functions tend to remain the same with advancing age and changes differ between people. While seniors tend to process new information slower, daily social and occupational functioning ability remains stable. Most language related skills also tend to remain stable with age. Most notably, creativity and wisdom continue at strong levels.
In addition to physical changes, seniors experience social changes that may be disruptive. These include: isolation from family and friends, loss of peers children living far away and a changing neighborhood
The majority of seniors learn to adapt to their changing situations and lead happy and productive lives. Read more about changes related to aging.
The aging process is blamed for many problems seniors may encounter with daily activities. However quite often it is the home creates the difficulties. Most residential housing is geared to young healthy adults. Builders do not take into account age-related conditions such as reduced mobility or limited range of reach. Hence, dwellings do not support the physical and sensory changes that older adults encounter as they age. What appear to be insignificant home features can have significant effect: for a person with even minor aging issues.
Many seniors avoid home modifications and helpful technology items designed
for people with disabilities,.because these products have an industrial
appearance. No one wants to have their home look like a hospital. Consumer
demand and computer technology have pushed institutional products to be
redesigned to be more acceptable in the home. Some of these include:
Chairs designed for easier in and out
Enhanced high and low frequency tones for doorbells and telephones
Grab bars and hand rails with decorator colors
Hospital type beds with wooden headboards and footboards
Items that are easier for arthritic hands to handle,
Larger print for declining eyesight
On/off buttons with color contrasts
Walkers in bright hues
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) states
that falls are the number one cause of home injury, and studies suggest
that a significant proportion of all falls are due to environmental factors
One of the bigger challenges is to identify safety issues that may be
unique to an individual based on their particular aging status and conditions.
While research via books and the internet can help focus on such issues
the use of a good checklist in assessing the home environment is helpful.
It is important to do a thorough assessment of the home to assure that it can properly handle an elderly or infirm individual. The following table provides a summary of items to review and or consider.
Walk-In Bathtubs can aid people with limited mobility, seniors, and the disabled. Some include the therapeutic benefits and luxury of a whirlpool tub, with the safety, accessibility and simplicity of access. Perfect for those with limited mobility who wish to enjoy the freedom of living comfortably at home
Safety Related Items
Successful "aging in place" requires identifying
and correcting any safety pitfalls. These may include many things some
of which were noted in the table above. However, preventing falls must
be a major focus to assure a safe environment. Further discussion of safety
related items can be found here.
Over one million Americans aged 40 and over are currently
blind and an additional 2.4 million are visually impaired.
Several tips for handling low vision situations can be found
Senior Fire Safety.
The physical and mental impairments that tend to accompany
aging tend to reduce older adults' reaction times and place them at a
higher risk for causing fires, and thus at a higher risk of fire injury.
Illness and disease can come from many types of contaminants in drinking water. Water may come from a lake, a river, an underground aquifer, a public water utility, even bottled water. All these sources may be contaminated by impurities. These contaminants may include chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals such as copper and lead, human and animal waste, and even disinfectant-products introduced during water treatment. Your health may be impacted by these impurities.
To help you make a quick assessment of the water quality in your area, our sister site Water Quality Plus, presents the status of the following contaminants in an easy to understand format.
Visit the site now and see your water quality, www.waterqualityplus.com.
Remodeling Your Home
There are a number of items to consider when remodeling your home. You may wish to consult a professional early in your evaluation process. No one is going to make all of the modifications, but be wise regarding those you focus on. i.e. if you already know your eyesight is failing, focus on modifications that benefit poor, or poorer eyesight the most. If you have arthritis that impairs mobility, focus on modifications that cater to your anticipated increasing mobility limitations.
Adapt lower floor of home for possible one level living
Increased incandescent general and specific task lighting
Easy garage or parking access
At least one entry is without steps
Doorways 36" wide with off-set hinges on doors
Levered door handles instead of knobs
Electrical outlets at 18 inches instead of 12
Easy to open or lock patio doors and screens
Light switches at 42" instead of 48
Adjustable controls on light switches
Luminous switches in bedrooms, baths and hallways
Strobe light or vibrator-assisted smoke and burglar alarms
Lower window sills especially for windows on the street
Programmable thermostats for heating and cooling
Contrast colors between floor and walls
Color borders around floor and counter-top edges
Non skid flooring
Matte finish paint, flooring and counter-tops
Non-glare glass on art work
Peep hole at a low height
Incorporation of emergency response system installed or wearable
Lever faucets and faucet mixers with anti-scald valves
Temperature controlled shower and tub fixtures
Stall shower with a low threshold and shower seat
Grab bars at back and sides of shower, tub and toilet or wall reinforcement for later installation
Bathrooms with turn around and transfer space for walker or wheelchair (36" by 36")
Higher bathroom counters
Installation of medical response device
Kitchen cabinets with pullout shelves and lazy susans
Easy to grasp cabinet knobs or pulls
Task lighting under counters
Cooktop with front controls
Side by side refrigerator
Adjustable upper shelves and pull out lower shelves
Variety in kitchen counter height - some as low as table height (30 inches)
Gas sensor near gas cooking, water heater and gas furnace
Color or pattern borders at counter edges
Seating at least 18 inches off the floor
Chairs with sturdy arm
Make Your Home Aging-in-Place Friendly
As we age we don’t hear so well, we sometimes forget or get confused and we can even outlive doctor’s predictions about our longevity. So as long as we persist in growing older, why not arrange our homes to accommodate our reality. Incorporate memory triggers into the way we arrange cabinets and counters, Add soft fabrics to muffle background noises, change appliances to better accommodate our short-comings and make our homes senior-friendly.
Also visit: the Universal Design Living Laboratory:A National Demonstration Home at http://www.UDLL.com by Rosemarie Rossetti, PhD
Possible Assistance Needs
To "age in place" one should be aware of community help and services available to deal with increasing frailty or age related problems. They may also be needed in the event of illness.
Services can provide:
Pointers for Hiring Personal Care Help
Non-medical in home support services provide an opportunity for frail or ailing people to stay in their home and perhaps maintain a more independent lifestyle than a group home might offer.
Agencies can provide experienced caregivers who can assist these seniors in a number of ways. Reputable agencies are bonded and insured and their employees are covered by workers compensation and are regularly supervised. Caregivers may work for a client a few hours per day or 24 hours seven days a week. They prepare meals, do housekeeping, medication reminders, run errands, manage incontinence, give baths and help clients transfer. They also provide valuable companionship and encourage clients to exercise and participate in activities. They are a help when a caregiver lives at a distance, or with the frail senior, and just cannot be do all the services necessary.
Non-medical homemaker services are often confused with licensed home healthcare agencies. Some of these agencies also offer non-medical care, but generally they offer nursing types of services on an intermittent short-term basis. The client usually has a medical need that requires the expertise of a RN, physical therapist or some other medical specialty. In home supportive companies often work hand in hand with home healthcare companies to help their clients.
In home support services range from $13 to $20 dollars per hour and $140 to $200 dollars for 24-hour care. Long term care insurance policies can be helpful in meeting some of this cost . People who cannot afford this cost may hire people privately for less money. However, they are taking a risk and will have to manage these caregivers with no professional assistance. However, reality sometimes dictates that this is the only viable choice.
Whether you hire an agency to send you a helper or hire one directly - read on:
Interview the candidate and/or the agency.
Resources For Aging in Place
Insurance, Long Term Care
Patients Lifts offer caregivers the ability to utilize mechanically assisted transfer. Using patient lifts help prevent occupational injuries associated with repeated manual lifting. Transfers are difficult on both the caregiver and the patient's body. Patient lifts allows for transfers from beds, wheelchairs, showers and bathtubs.
While you might first encounter a patient lift in a hospital, there are affordable options made for your home. The following is a rough overview of your choices when it comes to patient lifts.
- Options and Accessories
Wheelchair options and accessories make a wheelchair more suitable for a persons specific illness, injury or condition.
Medicare covers options and accessories for wheelchairs when a patient has a wheelchair that meets Medicare coverage guidelines, and the options or accessories are necessary for the patient to perform normal daily activities.
For an option or accessory for a manual wheelchair to be covered, a written signed and dated order must be received by the supplier before a claim is submitted to the DMERC. If the supplier bills for an item without first receiving the completed order, the item will be denied as not medically necessary. Also, supporting documentation for the medical need of this item must be on file.
YOUR AD COULD BE HERE
Patio pet doors provide a great way to provide pet access next to your existing sliding doors. Once installed, the screen door can not be shut all the way or pet door access is blocked. Until the Bug Warden arrived, the only option was to close the screen door to the point where the patio pet door starts, leaving a bug gap between the edge of the partially opened screen door up to 3" wide
by over 6 feet tall...over 200 square inches of mosquito, fly and other pest access. The Bug Warden blocks bugs from entering the bug gap by adhering to the side of the exterior face of the patio pet door and extending out a soft flexible material to provide a bug blocking seal with your screen door.
In some locales it's really important that bugs not have a way into the house. But until now, nobody has come up with a good way of solving this problem. Learn More
a volunteer-based friendly visitation program, designed to help keep elders
living in the community, in their own homes and remaining independent
for as long as possible
Meals on Wheels Association of America is one organization providing nutritional meals to shut-ins or ailing seniors with low incomes.
America's Second Harvest can locate a nearby food bank for low income seniors.
Food and Nutrition Information Center Provides credible, accurate, and practical resources for nutrition and health professionals, and consumers.
is a resource for extensive care related information. It is written
from the perspective of professional RNs.
Financial Resources to assist in Aging in Place
Independent Living and Assisted
Living offer opportunities they refer to as "aging in place"
after one relocates to their community, since they offer levels of increasing
care, although most do not include nursing home level care within their
communities. Continuing Care Retirement
Communities (CCRCs) also offer the opportunity to "age in place"
once you have relocated to their community with a guarantee to that effect.
We welcome inquiries from providers of services and products who wish to join seniorresource.com
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