Everything You Need to Know About Aging in Place
As you grow old and retire, you may have heard your fellow friends, family or co-workers talk about the aging in place movement. At Senior Homecare by Angels, we fully endorse aging in place through our personal care/private duty, companion care as well as other home care services. But what exactly does aging in place mean? As described by the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, aging in place is defined as “the ability to live in one’s home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level”.
In short, aging in place is having the ability to live at home and thrive in the community independently by having adequate health and social support to do so. The goal of aging in place is to maintain a high quality of life at home for as long as possible. Contrary to popular belief, aging in place does not mean you are always fully independent. Those who age in place often have caregivers, home care nurses or medical practitioners in their home. It’s important to note that aging in place does not fix medical, physical, mental or emotional problems seniors may have.
Rather, aging in place allows them to live independently at home while dealing with these issues. Sometimes, the senior may have to modify their home to meet their changing needs, but this is normal for one who ages in place.
To understand this further, consider this example. For instance, Senior Homecare by Angels provides Dementia, Alzheimer’s and End of Life care to those living in their home. During this time, a senior’s health may falter forcing them to transfer to a retirement community or assisted living home. At this point, aging in place ends as the senior needs to permanently leave their home for a facility with specific care. Aging in place is only appropriate if the senior can maintain the desired level of independence and quality of life while they are at home. If they cannot maintain these standards, aging in place may not be possible.
Through this post, we will explore the facts around aging in place and provide you with information to decide if aging in place is right for you or a loved one.
Why Would You Want to Age in Place?
According to Carp (Canadian Association for Retired Persons), most Canadian seniors want to stay in their homes. 72 percent of respondents wanted to age at home just due to convenience. As aging in place is supported as the preferable way to age, it’s important to know why most seniors are choosing to age in place rather than choose other alternatives. Below are some reasons as to why aging in place is so popular.
Seniors want to age in place simply due to convenience. Their home is comfortable, safe and overall familiar. Like most people, staying at home is more convenient than moving to a retirement community. There is no hassle with moving, no worry about meeting new people, and you maintain your privacy. Since the neighborhood, resources, and community is familiar, seniors would rather stay with what they know than force change.
Some seniors believe that once they move into a facility, they will lose their independence. As facilities are usually packed with other seniors, those who age in place can maintain their familiar quality of life rather than adhere to a new life in a facility.
Sometimes seniors can’t move into a facility. Availability for attractive senior homes that are in the city is often limited. According to Statistics Canada, seniors aged 65 and older will make up 25% of the population by 2036. This means home availability and senior resources will decrease. Furthermore, on average it costs $2,200 per month to live in a senior home while it is often less money to live at home. As mortgages are usually paid off and external expenses are lower, staying at home is usually the more viable option.
As seniors receive government benefits for retrofitting a house with safety modifications, it is often cheaper to renovate one’s home than move out entirely. As moving takes a lot of physical labor, work and overall money, changing a lifestyle while at home is usually a much easier and cheaper way to age. You don’t have to worry about moving your entire life to another home that may not meet your current lifestyle.
From home, one can focus on finances, personal care, household maintenance and keeping up with relationships. It is easy to maintain the order of life from one’s home as it is cozy, private and comfortable. It can be hard for seniors to maintain their personal commitments while in a senior home as it often falls to family members or friends to take up the responsibility.
How to make Aging in Place Possible
Keep in mind, aging in place cannot happen overnight. Extensive planning might need to be considered before you formally start aging in place. Whether it’s changing health concerns or mobility issues, addressing your needs is the first step to seeing if aging in place is viable. Remember, if it’s just not possible to live at home due to a need for specialized care, aging in place may not be possible. Below are some of the things you should consider before choosing aging in place.
Think About Your Home
The first step to determining if aging in place is right for you is evaluating your home. Can your home meet the medical or physical needs of your lifestyle? Are there a lot of hazards in your home? Is your home in need of renovation/can you pay for the renovation? All these questions should be considered first before you decide to age in place. Depending on your needs you may be forced to make changes to your home. Installing handrails, wheelchair accessibility, shower bars/chars or wider doorways are often modifications one can make to keep a healthy and safe home life. Furthermore, household maintenance must be considered.
Keeping your house clean is just as important to one’s health as household safety. If this cannot be maintained by yourself or you do not have the money to do so, it may be worth seeing if there are services in your community/government to help you achieve this goal. If your household cannot viably suit your needs, you may have to consider other options.
Think About Getting Around
Being able to get to appointments, grocery stores and/or recreational activities are important factors to aging in place and for overall independence. Having the capacity to drive is usually a good indicator of independence. Thinking about retiring from driving is important to consider as it can be a danger to you and others on the road. Due to medical conditions, it may be a better option to ask others to drive instead of getting behind the wheel yourself.
As winters in Calgary and surrounding areas are nasty enough as it is, having to battle health issues on top of reduced visibility, icy roads and increased traffic are near impossible. Remember, just because you can’t drive doesn’t mean you can’t age in place. Thinking about transportation options such as friends, family, public transit, Disabled Adult Transit Service (DATS) or caregivers, through Senior Homecare by Angels transportation services can help you maintain a healthy independent life.
Think About Support Services
Depending on the condition, some seniors need help with their general day-to-day needs as they live at home. Whether it helps cooking meals, housekeeping, or cleaning, support may have to be considered to allow yourself to live at home. As needs vary, it’s important to consider what support your needs permit. Seeing if your community has access to private care (such as Senior Homecare by Angels), public healthcare, or other social services is an important factor to evaluate. Furthermore, breaking down the cost of care is important in terms of viability. Though some governments provide aid to seniors, not all are eligible for these benefits. Checking what support is available in your community is the first step to recognizing how to address your needs. Check out the resources section below for a list of support services in Calgary.
Think About Your Community
Depending on where your home is located, it’s important to recognize what type of community you live in. Age-friendly communities often have a lot of services and activities that are easily accessible to seniors. Having activities that keep seniors engaged and active are a good motivator for living an independent life. Communities with well-maintained sidewalks, buildings, public transportation, parks, and recreational areas make it easier for seniors to be out and about. Being in a community that has local shopping centers, medical services, and other essential services is key to a senior’s independence.
The farther out one is from a city makes it harder to gain access to these services, especially if the senior must travel long distances. Having connections, whether it’s family, friends or community workers can always help you if you are unsure about the resources available to you.
Think About Your Financial Situation
Sometimes, living at home is not viable due to the financial stress to upkeep a certain lifestyle. Understanding the expenses to maintain a desired standard of living will give you a clue if aging in place is possible. Evaluating your income sources, government benefits, retirement savings, and tax credits will be a good start to planning to age in place. Being honest with your financial situation in terms of care, health expenses and other needs is important for laying the groundwork for the rest of your life.
Due to health issues, lack of independence, or inability to live at home, aging in place may not be possible for some seniors. As homes come in all shapes and are located in many different areas, aging in place may be impossible if your home does not meet your needs. Remember, your health and safety come first. If your home does not permit a healthy and safe lifestyle it may be time to look elsewhere.
If any of the following apply to you, you may want to consider other options:
- The financial situation is not great enough to maintain an independent lifestyle
- Home is located a significant distance from a city, town or hospital
- Social support and services are inaccessible
- Community is not age-friendly
- Home is old and a hazard to the senior
- A home can’t be fitted with safety features
- Homecare services are inaccessible
- Home is too large for the senior to maintain either financially or physically
- Home no longer suits the needs of the senior
- Senior cannot drive or public transit, homecare transportation, and taxis are inaccessible
- Medical conditions are too great to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home
- Constant external aid is needed outside of the home
- Personal connections are reduced due to home location or senior’s health
- Activities, hobbies, and organizations are inaccessible or absent from the community
- Basic functions such as eating, bathing or going to the bathroom are reduced or impossible
- Long term home care is not possible
- Safety cannot be maintained
- Neighborhood is unsafe
- Abuse of any kind is apparent
Remember, aging in place may not be for you and that’s okay! There are a lot of other care services to maintain a great quality of life. Below is a list of great alternatives to aging in place.
Collaborative housing that involves seniors operating and designing their community. Each person is responsible for purchasing their own home or shared house. Caregivers will usually have a suite for themselves as they look after the senior.
Long term care facilities for seniors that need consistent medical care. Licensed nurses are always available to provide a high level of care.
Assisted living (Personal Care Homes)
For individuals who are incapable of living on their own. They are not as dependent as seniors in nursing homes as they do not need a high level of care. Apartments or homes are provided for the seniors while meals and social activities are provided in a central area. Staff is always available to assist with daily living. Licensed nurses and transportation are externally offered.
Some facilities offer care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or other conditions that affect memory. 24/7 care is required, and carefully curated activities are implemented to maintain constant well-being.
Ideal for seniors with few medical problems and can live independently. Aging in place can be achieved within a retirement community. Residents have access to custom meals and senior-focused events done through the community.
Residential Care Homes
Private homes designed to provide a home-like setting. Caretakers provide help with basic activities such as bathing.
Aging in place can be a daunting task but at Senior Homecare by Angels we can help you decide if aging in place is right for you. Senior Homecare by Angels can identify points of interest and vulnerability in everyday life and provide solutions to keep you safe and maintain your desired quality of life. Our experienced caregivers and client care services can show you ways to live comfortably at home.
Reach Out Today
The Senior Homecare by Angels team is proud to provide your elderly loved ones with the best home care in Calgary. Our Home Care Services help seniors to remain safe and independent at home. We have a wealth of experience in providing all types of care under many different circumstances. Our wonderful group of caregivers is bonded, insured and have current police background checks completed. Choose Senior Homecare by Angels-Canada’s choice in homecare!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a complimentary in-home consultation. You can call us at 403-862-0129 or toll-free (outside of Calgary) at 1-877-209-6142 or visit our Contact Us page to complete and submit a simple contact form!
Gerry Gatto is a trained health care administrator and the owner of Senior Homecare® By Angels a Calgary – based company. Helping Calgary seniors remain in their homes and maintain their independence with the assistance of a dedicated caregiver.
Canadian Senior Cohousing
Canadian Cohousing Network
Alberta Senior Resources
Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home
Thinking About Aging in Place
Aging in Place-Myth or Reality?
Stats Canada Population Growth
Seniors Cohousing: An Aging in Place Alternative
CDC Healthy Places Terminology
Aging in Place
Age Friendly Alberta
CARP Senior Survey Results