Creating a Checklist for Aging in Place

For many years, the idea of growing old in assisted living communities and nursing homes has appealed to many Americans. We prepared to move into them and picked them for ourselves before needing to move to stop our families from needing to make those decisions for us.

However, the last year has shown that those places can have dramatic downsides. Not only has COVID-19 sickened and killed many people in assisted living and nursing homes, but the facilities also closed their doors to visitors. That has made many people planning ahead reevaluate their plans and look toward aging in place instead. Many of us wish to remain in our houses for the freedom and privacy it will afford us. However, many of us need to make modifications to our homes to make that possible.    

With advancements in technology in everything from grocery delivery services, to technology that monitors falls, to telemedicine, aging in place has become easier. The pandemic has forced all of us to become more aware of how video chats work, and they’ve become a part of our everyday life. Even things like church are now online. And many churches say they will still offer online worship even after in-person worship becomes a regular part of their Sunday. All of these services will make life easier when you become older and maybe won’t be driving or will need help in your home and help to stay connected.

You will need to learn more about transportation services. While you may drive or take public transport now, that might become more difficult when you are older. Learn if there are senior call-and-ride programs in your area and what taxi services might exist near you. You might not think of taking taxis now, but they might be a more practical option than public transport when you get older.

Your house may need to be physically modified. Is it on one floor? If not, are your stairs safe or very steep? Will you need a stairlift installed? Are your floors slippery, or do you have any carpets that could be easily tripped over? Many people focus on the bathroom and walk-in tubs and showers with seats and safety bars when modifying their homes. Those are essential features if you want to age in place. But your kitchen may also need assistance. Do you have countertops at a height that can be accessed from a wheelchair? While these changes may be expensive initially, assisted living and nursing homes can also be pricey options, making it worth the investment.

As well as more extensive renovations, there are smaller projects. You might need to add accent strips to the edges of counters and doors to aid depth perception or change your boiler settings to prevent scalding yourself with hot water as you age. Those are common problems that you can address now.

Here’s a longer list here that would be a great place to start. It’s something to review and consider. Aging at home isn’t always easy, but it has its benefits. If you want to do it, you have to prepare for it, not just hope for the best. Plan now, and you can stay in your home!  

Banner image: Binyamin Mellish via Pexels

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