Aging in Place in the 21st Century
The term “aging in place” is being used with ever-increasing regularity. If you are like most of us, when you first hear or read the term “aging in place,” you understandably may wonder what is meant by this phrase.
The technical term of aging in place is:
A person making a conscious decision to stay in the inhabitation of their choice for as long as they can with the comforts that are important to them.
In other words, aging in place is:
Living in your own home.
Through this article, we explore a number of important issues associated with aging in place that include:
- Challenges associated with aging in place
- 21st century technology and aging in place
- Supportive resources and aging in place
- Tough questions and aging in place
Challenges Associated With Aging in Place
There are a variety of challenges that people face as they grow older. Of course, there are individuals that face diseases, illnesses, and conditions that are outside of the proverbial bounds of what can be considered part of the normal aging process. Generally speaking, when considering the normal aging process, as people grow older, they are apt to face one (and likely more) of the following issues:
- Poorer eyesight
- Reduced muscle mass and hence less strength
- Diminished endurance both physical and mental
- Higher risk of accidents due to bone fragility, less balance while walking
- Reduced hearing capacity
- Diminished mobility and agility
- Decreased flexibility
These different issues (and others) can end up having a notable impact on a person’s ability to tend to different activities of daily living, also known as ADLs. Prime examples of ADLs that can be hampered by different aging-related issues include such everyday things as:
- Ability to go out and come back home without incidents or anxiety
- Taking public transportation easily and without mishaps
- Being able to drive safely, able to navigate congested roads, confusing exits and highways
- Making it to social events without difficulties
- Maintaining one’s home and outdoors easily without strain
- Taking care of one’s health, which includes being able to do chores necessary to eat healthily to doing regular fitness or exercise routines without hardship
- Accomplishing daily hygiene tasks like bathing, grooming, and dressing
- Preparing nutritious meals at home
- Tending to laundry
- Undertaking essential house cleaning and maintenance tasks
- Attending medical appointments without difficulties
21st Century Technology and Aging in Place
21st technology has rendered aging in place a more realistic endeavor for some individuals. In other words, thanks to technology, there are people today who continue to age in place (live at home) when in the past they would have to consider moving in with a family member or into an assisted living community.
Of course, 21st century technology includes advances in the field of healthcare that go far in improving the lives of the aging population as well as individuals with certain types of diseases, illnesses, and medical conditions. With that said, there is 21st century technology that can be found or used in a residential setting that make aging in place a more realistic endeavor for a wider swath of people in the United States.
Communication applications (or communications apps) are prime examples of technology that can be used at home by an older adult. Thanks to applications like Zoom, Facetime, and others, older individuals have the ability to maintain better contact with others even when they are not as able to leave the house as much as they may have in the past.
In addition, this technology has allowed an advancement of telehealth. Thanks to telehealth, older women and men are better able to maintain contact with their healthcare providers.
Supportive Resources and Aging in Place
Thanks to an array of different types of supportive resources, a person can age at home more effectively and for longer periods of time. A prime example is the ability of an older individual with some issues associated with ADLs to obtain important support and assistance from a homecare aide in regard to some recurring tasks.
Moreover, if the time does come, a person who has been aging in place has the ability to select from a larger number of assisted living options than existed in the past. At the current time, there are over 30,000 assisted living facilities in operation across the United States.
Tough Questions and Aging in Place
Senior Living distilled what undoubtedly are many different questions about the aging in place decision making process into four tough queries. As you contemplate your Golden Years, you need to come up with reasonable answers to these four tough questions:
- What is the ideal way for you to spend your Golden Years?
- What type of home environment you see yourself in: individual, community, assisted living?
- What special health care do you require or think you will need in the future?
- What other types of supplementary services you may require?
- What options have you provided for in case of emergencies, life changing events, accidents and so forth?
These questions, and planning for where you will reside when you grow older, truly are things that you need to start in your own life as soon as possible.