What is Aging in Place?
Aging in Place is a term used to describe the lifestyle choice of staying in your home, safely, independently and comfortably for as long as possible. It’s a description of how you want to live today and in the future. Choosing to age in place works best by creating a plan for adding safety improvements to your home and focusing on the quality of your life.
By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65. Approximately 10,000 people are retiring each day and able to start receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits right away. Not everyone will retire at 65, but it’s a sobering number for the impact on these services. Government support will not be able to cover the cost of living in an assisted facility for everyone. The average cost of living in a one bedroom apartment in an assisted facility in Washington State is $4,500 / month, more if there are two people. Some people are choosing to stay in their homes for as long as possible for financial reasons. Some choose to stay in their homes because they want to stay near friends and family. Whatever the motivation, aging in place can be a good option for many people.
Safety Improvement for Homes
New homes are the easiest to prepare for the changing needs we’re all going to face. Incorporating accessible details like an on-level entry and ground floor rooms that can be turned into a bedroom and living space are important.
Accessible components can be designed into the house plans. Things like creating an on-level entry, providing a ground floor room that can become a bedroom, making doors wide enough for crutches or a wheelchair help to make living at home easier for any age. Design elements like lighting along baseboards in hallways, motion sensor lights in the bathroom and accessible cabinets in the kitchen make the home more comfortable, and safer. Including these ideas during the design phase doesn’t increase the cost of the home, but will improve its safety and comfort.
Existing homes can be more of a challenge, but many adaptations can be easy and inexpensive. Swapping out round knobs for levers makes opening doors easier for people who have arthritic hands. Adding task lighting to work spaces and adding non-slip tape to rugs are just a few low-cost improvements. Adding ramps and hand railings takes a little more skill and time, but still affordable. More complicated retrofits, like kitchens and bathrooms, can be more costly and take time. If the changes need to be made right away because someone has fallen or gotten sick, the price and complexity go up. When there is a strategy already in place, much of this work can be phased over time.
Aging in place is a lifestyle choice to stay safe and independent in your home for a long time. Adding accessibility elements to your home will make it more comfortable for any age and ability. Designing a plan that focuses on the quality of life and home safety today will keep you comfortable and independent in the future.
Want more information? Email me and we can talk about your needs, and how to achieve your goals.
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place by Design, providing building and design solutions for safe homes and independent lifestyles. Contact her if you have questions about what can be done for your home.