What is Ageing in Place? And is it right for you?
They say ‘home is where the heart is’, that’s why, as you age the last thing you want to do is be forced to leave as your mobility declines. Recently, thousands of seniors have opted to age in place; a form of independent care that lets you stay at home for longer.
A simple definition of Ageing in Place means that you can continue to live in the comfort of your own home with some level of independence, rather than in residential care.
Studies have shown that ageing in place has both emotional and functional benefits to your health, particularly surrounding the sense of attachment you hold with your home which provides a sense of security and familiarity with your environment. This natural assurance you feel in your home improves your overall quality of life, and with the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, it may be safer for some.
This plan is ideal for those seniors who can reside in their home safely and comfortably, often after making the appropriate home modifications. The idea is that you’re able to live with some level of independence, whilst also having access to the necessary in-house services that enable you to live comfortably.
But, as dreamy as it sounds, it simply doesn’t work for everyone. So, before you decide to age in place there are a few things you need to consider.
1. Is your house age-proof?
If you want to age in place you need to think ahead. The stairs may not be an issue now, but in ten years' time, they’ll become more challenging and more dangerous. It’s important that you make appropriate home modifications now, to make your house more liveable in the future.
Modifying your home to make it more accessible and practical, with the installation of handrails along the stairs to the front door, or replacing the stairs with a wheelchair accessible ramp, will combat the inevitable signs of ageing, including decreased mobility, decreased vision, balance and reduced strength.
When creating your ageing in place plan, it’s important to consider all these natural changes now, so when they do arrive you, find comfort in knowing that your home accommodates for all these needs.
Ageing in place can only accommodate for what you have already planned for, so you need to plan ahead.
2. What support do you need?
It’s important to be realistic about the support you may need as you age. There are numerous in-house services that can assist with your ageing in place plan, these include meal preparation, house cleaning, personal care and/or nursing.
Your friends, family and local community are a great support system, in fact, they’re often a large contributing factor for why seniors choose to age in place. This consistent engagement with your support network has been linked to improving your overall health and wellbeing, so, you don’t just age in place, but you age with grace.
However, as you grow older, you may require further assistance, such as if your vision begins to decline, rendering you unable to complete household tasks. In this instance, it’s important to assess whether you can safely and independently live at home, whilst maintaining the same quality of life you’ve always had. Depending on this level of independence, alternative aged care facilities may be recommended.
If you’re living with a physical or mental health condition, it’s important to contact your doctor to discuss how these conditions could impact your future and adjust your aged care plan accordingly.
3. Do you know the risks?
Though there are countless benefits to ageing in place, there are risks involved that need to be assessed before you make the big decision.
Safety is the greatest concern if you’re planning to age in place. Accidents happen, so intervening beforehand is key. This can be achieved through home modifications; installing grab rails in the bathroom or converting your combined bathtub and shower unit into a stepless shower.
If you’re living alone, it’s crucial that you’re prepared for a medical emergency. Being able to contact someone for help if you suddenly become ill or injured is imperative to your safety.
It’s important to monitor whether the changes you’re experiencing with age are outliving the preparation you’ve completed at home. Understanding when you can no longer live at home without assistance will prevent unnecessary accidents.
So, although it’s an attractive option, before you decide to age in place, consider the risk factors involved and start preparing now.
If ageing in place is something you’re considering, contact ELC Home Modifications for an assessment of your home and see how they can help make the necessary changes to prepare for your future.