The Joy Many Seniors Find by Aging in Place
Remember the first time your parents handed you the car keys and let you venture out on your own? Was there anything more exciting than that rush of independence? Of knowing you were trusted to be responsible, to be a grown-up, to do something by yourself?
Over time, we get used to feeling independent. We mature, and responsibility becomes a part of life. We grow into adults, and as our independence loses its novelty, it becomes easy to take it for granted.
When our parents reach the point in their lives when they are unable to take complete care of themselves, they are put in a very tough, emotional situation. They find themselves in a position where they are no longer as independent as they were once accustomed, whether due to physical or mental changes, and that’s okay.
There are many options available to seniors in need of assistance, including nursing homes, assisted living communities, and in-home care. You can learn more about these options in our Guide to Senior Care and Housing. While both assisted living facilities and nursing homes can provide the assistance and medical care your loved one needs, is it best for them? It’s a deeply personal decision that requires careful consideration from both you and your loved ones. However, having some basic information can help make the decision process a little less daunting.
For many seniors, leaving home can feel like they’re leaving their entire life behind, including their sense of independence and pride. It’s not surprising that, according to AARP, 87% of seniors are opting to avoid the nursing home and stay at home, or “age in place.”
What does aging in place mean for seniors?
Aging in place is the ability to grow older in the home you love surrounded by a community that supports you. By continuing to live in your own home, regardless of age, income, or ability level, seniors are able to maintain as much of their independence, comfort, and lifestyle as possible. To see what aging in place can be like, watch Luke and Laura’s story below.
Why is aging in place important?
Everyone wants to feel in control of their own lives. Independent living is vital to both your parents’ sense of control and overall well being. As we age, many aspects of life fall out of our control. We become aware of physical and mental limitations that we may not have had to worry about when we were younger. This is why maintaining a sense of independence is so important for seniors. Often times, as other aspects of their lives change, this becomes the only thing they feel they have control over.
“True independence for the elderly involves control over their own lives and meaningful participation in the community; receiving services at home or in the community can play a large role in gaining this independence.”
-Mitchell P. LaPlante, Ph.D., Journal of Aging & Social Policy
Aging in place and maintaining independence promote a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. These things are essential for any of us hoping to live a happy, fulfilling life. We should always remember how vital self-worth is, and do our best to encourage our loved one’s independence. Allowing them to live in the home they love is a good start, but it takes a little more than that to successfully age in place, especially if they’re having difficulties managing their own care.
One of the best things you can do to ensure your loved one is happy and healthy is to keep them involved with their own care. It’s easy to forget this when our parents insist on being fiercely independent and reject any help they’re offered. This usually leads to us worrying about them more, and them, in turn, becoming more resistant to help.
In many cases, especially when a parent is fearful of change or is living with memory loss, discussing care options can be difficult. They may not have ever considered leaving their home. It’s important to know the benefits and disadvantages of aging in place.
Emotional, Social, and Health Benefits of Aging in Place
Chances are, your parents are already comfortable in the house they live in — the home they’ve built. It’s likely they’re familiar with their neighbors and feel a sense of community. In a recent AARP study of seniors who wanted to age in place, 74% said being near family and friends was the main reason they wanted to stay in their community, followed by location and proximity to public services, safety, and a pleasant neighborhood.
Community involvement has a far greater impact than simply keeping us happy. Volunteering and civic engagement aren’t just great things to do, they’ve also been found to reduce symptoms of depression and pain and increase physical function, muscular strength, and levels of self-rated health.There are even indicators they can help you live a longer, happier life.
It’s also worth mentioning that volunteering and being a productive member of their community can give them a sense of purpose and accomplishment — two things that we struggle to feel as we get older. To help your loved one stay engaged in their local community, companionship and transportation services from a dedicated home caregiver can allow them to keep active and make new friends.
Are there financial benefits to living in place?
While there are a wealth of health benefits to living in place, most people choose to stay at home simply because aging in place makes the most economic sense. Over 20% of seniors have paid off their mortgages, while many others are enrolling in programs that allow them to access the equity of their homes as income.
Even for seniors who are interested in moving, selling their homes can often be challenging. Older homes that haven’t been recently renovated are less attractive to buyers. For most people, it simply isn’t worth the cost and time-consuming effort of renovating.
Are there disadvantages to living in place?
Detractors of aging in place often cite safety and convenience of care as the primary reasons to move into a nursing home. These concerns are often related to medical issues, such as monitoring blood sugar or remembering to take medications, and the stress placed on family members who assume the responsibility of caregiver. There are also personal care tasks that need to be taken into account, as household chores or getting dressed can become challenging as we age.
Thankfully, the majority of disadvantages related to aging in place can be remedied with the assistance of an in-home caregiver. A professional caregiver is able to offer a helping hand to assist with personal care and provide needed companionship.
In-home health care service enable seniors to stay at home
You can find an in-home caregiver for almost any situation. Someone can stop by once a day to help with an injection or provide companion care, or a live-in caregiver will monitor all of your parent’s needs, from medication reminders, to cooking meals, to bathing and toileting.
The bottom line is only you and your loved ones know what is best for your family. For some people, moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility might seem like a great idea. For most seniors, however, aging at home can be essential to their health and wellbeing. When considering what care option is best for your loved one, it’s important to start the conversation early to ensure their needs and wishes are met. If you’d like to know more about the benefits of home health care, we are here to help.