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What Does Aging in Place Mean?


Updated August 09, 2009

Aging in Place

Aging in Place

Andersen Ross / Getty Images
Question: What Does Aging in Place Mean?
Answer: Aging in place is a term that refers to making changes in the home to allow seniors to live at home for as long as possible. Aging in place is a great concept to help people live at home as long as possible while aging while reducing the burden of the elderly on family and society alike.

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.
For more information on aging in place, see these resources:

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