For many years, the largest generation in the U.S. was the Baby Boomer generation — people born between 1946 and 1964. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older. One question many Boomers and their loved ones ask is: Where should they live? Aging in place appeals to many people, but it is not always possible without some home modifications.
If your loved one has said they would like to stay in their home, there are a few ways you can help them maintain their quality of life and promote independent living.
Assess the Situation
The first thing to do if your loved one wants to age in place is talk with them about their concerns. Factors to consider when discussing potential home modifications and whether your loved one can stay at home include:
- Their financial situation: Though talking about money can feel uncomfortable, it’s an essential conversation to have. Some people find that as they shift from working full-time to retirement or part-time work, they can no longer afford to stay in their home. If this is the case for your loved one, it can be worthwhile to discuss options such as moving to a smaller home or moving in with another family member.
- Their health: Your loved one’s health is another important factor when deciding what type of senior care they might need. People with reduced mobility or limited hearing or eyesight may benefit from in-home care. A person who is beginning to show signs of dementia or another debilitating illness may require long-term care in a residential facility.
- The resources available to them: There are many organizations that provide support and assistance to older people. Some nonprofits send volunteers to visit seniors and take care of daily chores. Senior centers may hold daily activities for older adults. Researching what resources are available for your loved one can help them stay connected while living at home, especially when you’re managing long-distance caregiving.
- Their emotions: Ask your loved one how they feel about staying in their home. A home can be full of happy memories your loved one wants to enjoy for as long as possible. Other people may prefer to move from their home after a major life change, such as the death of a spouse.
- Their ability to perform daily tasks: As people age, it becomes more challenging to perform daily tasks like meal preparation, bathing, housekeeping and other chores. When you visit your loved one, ensure the condition of their home, their hygiene, their diet, and their stock of food is suitable for healthy living. You can hire home health aides to take on certain chores for your loved ones if they need assistance. In certain instances, it may be best for your loved one to move in with a family member or consider a senior care community.
Know Your Options
Once you’ve assessed the situation, the next thing to do is discuss options with your loved one. Depending on their needs, budget and health, it may be best for them to do one of the following:
- Move to an assisted living facility: In some instances, aging-in-place isn’t an option. If your loved one has health needs that require professional care, the best option is usually to have the person move into a facility that can provide long-term care.
- Get in-home care: For some, in-home care can help maintain a good quality of life and relative independence. Check the options available near your loved one, such as paid caregiving or volunteer organizations. Occasional services like meal delivery, laundry pick-up or a weekly housekeeper might provide the support your loved one needs. A family member may also be able to step in and offer support, either by moving in or providing care during the day.
- Downsize: In some circumstances, a person can stay independent by moving to a smaller home. Many people find moving into a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is the best choice. CCRCs offer seniors regular support and a community they can rely on for care and companionship. Another option is to move into an active adult community, which is a neighborhood or housing development designed for people over the age of 55.
- Modify their home: Sometimes, a few updates can make a person’s home suitable for aging in place. Around 30 million older adults over age 65 fall each year, often after tripping on stairs or over rugs. Handrails, a home elevator and floor treads are all fall prevention modifications that can help someone stay home for as long as possible.
How to Make Changes to the Home
When people buy a home in their 20’s or 30’s, they’re not thinking about how their needs will change as they get older. A 30-year-old may purchase a three-story home with narrow staircases and realize they are more difficult to use as they age. If your loved one wants to age in place and is healthy enough to do so, some of the home changes you can make include:
- Installing a home elevator: A home elevator allows your loved one to travel from one floor to another without having to take the stairs. Adding an elevator to a multi-story home is easier than you may think. This modification can be particularly beneficial for people who have a history of falls or are beginning to experience limited mobility.
- Installing grab bars: Another way to reduce fall risk in the home is to install grab bars in the bathroom by the shower and toilet. Grab bars allow a person to support themselves while performing necessary tasks that could potentially lead to falling.
- Installing walk-in showers: Replacing bathtubs that require a person to step in with walk-in shower stalls can be a good option if your loved one wants to remain independent. Walk-in showers are easier to get in and out of, and they help lower the risk of a person tripping and falling.
- Adding ramps: While an elevator solves the problem of getting from one floor to the next, ramps solve the problem of safely getting up short flights of stairs. Ramps can be helpful from the ground to the front door or in areas where there are one or two steps at room transitions.
Create a Support System for Your Loved One
Whether they stay in their home with modifications, move to a smaller place or transition to an assisted living facility, your loved one needs your support throughout the process. If you’re ready to begin retrofitting your loved one’s home with a residential elevator, find an Inclinator dealer near you today.