The phrase “aging in place” refers to living in a cherished home environment during the senior years. The benefits far exceed other residential options, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. Here’s what your aging loved one gains by staying in his or her home throughout the golden years.
Prolongs IndependenceThe more your loved one can do independently, the better he or she retains that ability. Self-reliance promotes mobility, flexibility, and strength, and it also builds confidence. When your loved one feels pride in achievements, it boosts self-esteem. Even when he or she needs help with certain tasks, your loved one maintains a degree of control at home. Your loved one is still involved in decision-making and the power to shape his or her life, which preserves dignity.
- Tip – Within sensible boundaries, give your loved one options each day for what to eat, wear, and safely do.
Provides a Safe EnvironmentBy recognizing familiar objects, your loved one can feel oriented to place. Items in their usual spots serve as memory nudges. Seeing these items can help your loved one remember how to perform daily tasks and navigate the home setting. Constancy is vital for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Sameness gives an ordered appearance, staving off confusion and fear. A consistent home environment lends stability to the shifting identity caused by memory loss. To further promote security, pair familiar quarters with regular routines. Predictability may help your loved one feel in control, and knowing what to anticipate engages memory.
- Tip – Have your loved one follow a daily schedule for when to awaken, bathe, dress, eat, do fun projects, receive visitors, exercise, nap, engage in hobbies, play games, watch TV, and sleep.
Promotes Social ClosenessAfter living in the same home for years, your loved one likely feels connected to his or her community. Contact with friends and family is essential for seniors, providing purpose and meaning to life. Verbal interactions sustain communication and language skills. In socially active seniors, the rate of cognitive loss is 70 percent slower than in isolated elders. Plus, in seniors who participate in group activity either daily or weekly, the risk of dementia is 40 percent less than in older adults who keep to themselves. These are the findings presented in Social Participation and its Benefits, a 2013 report by the Centre on Aging at the University of Manitoba. Supportive relationships defuse tension and worry. Socializing aids senior health by spurring physical activity. When your loved one assists others, the contributions underscore his or her self-worth.
- Tips – Consider arranging transportation to programs at the local community or senior center. Your loved one can join fun group activities such as crafting, singing, exercising, playing games, and sharing meals. For a religious senior, enable regular attendance at a house of worship. The regional library likely has programming designed for seniors. If your extended family lives nearby, encourage them to visit your loved one.
Provides Customized ComfortDue to age-related changes in sweat glands and blood vessels, seniors are prone to overheating. Being overheated can strain the heart and cause heat-related illness. Additionally, with thinning skin, aging adults are sensitive to cold. With these challenges to regulating body temperature, being comfortable is imperative for senior wellbeing. Aging in place provides the perfect indoor setting. Your loved one can tailor the temperature, lighting, and furnishings to his or her preferences, eat healthy meals, and listen to music, TV, and radio at a volume that suits him or her.
- Tip – For a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, ensuring comfort can prevent behavioral outbursts.
Increases Financial SavingsCompared to aging in place, the costs of assisted living and nursing home care are exorbitant. In the U.S., long-term facility expenses can be double that of home care services. With home care, you can hire a personal caregiver for an affordable number of hours and frequency. If your loved one has paid off a mortgage, staying at home is much less expensive than facility care, even after investing in home modifications for safety. For an American senior who is 62 or older and has an existing mortgage, a reverse mortgage enables conversion of home equity to cash, eliminating monthly mortgage payments.
- Tip – In the U.S., delaying socialsSecurity benefits provides greater income. From ages 67 through 70, each year of delaying benefits yields an 8 percent credit, increasing monthly payments. If your loved one waits until age 70 to receive benefits, the amount is 32 percent more than payments taken at age 66.