Some of the basic concepts behind aging in place are to simply look at known limitations that people have while aging and modify the home to minimize the impact of these limitations. A few thousand dollars in modifications could save tens of thousands on costs for assisted living facilities (for example, assisted living costs an average of $34,000 per year). The biggest benefit is that seniors can delay or avoid the emotional stress of moving out of their home. Here are a few basic concepts on aging in place:
- Prevent Falls: Falls are one of the biggest concerns with aging. By adding secure railings in the bathroom, by any stairs and creating ramps at entryways, the risk of falling can be greatly diminished. In addition, carpet and rugs should be on non-slip pads or securely fastened to the floor.
- Better Lighting: Another reason people fall is that they simple can't see. Steps should be clearly indicated with high-contrast color changes. Lighting should illuminate obstacles around the house. Light switches should be in accessible locations with outdoor switches (and some indoor switches) on automatic timers to assure good lighting when needed.
- Communications: Phones, cells phones and other electronics are often difficult for aging folks to handle. Replace these gadgets with simpler devices that are easy to use. Larger buttons and fewer features can make a huge difference, especially during times of distress.
- Special Concerns: Some people will develop special needs as they age. A consult with an occupational therapist who specializes in geriatric patients could provide recommendations for products and modifications to address needs. Ask your doctor for a recommendation or a referral.
- National Aging in Place Council: for general information, recommendations and more.
- Certified Aging in Place Specialists: For information about professionals who can help with aging in place modifications.
- The Aging in Place Initiative: A non-profit committed to helping people aging in place.
- Aging in Place Checklist: A checklist to get you started thinking about aging in place.