According to the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, 88% of older Americans hope to “age in place” instead of choosing another option such as senior living or moving in with a family member. Yet, only about one third of respondents said their home had the features that would make this possible, such as single-ﬂoor living capabilities, wider hallways, and accessible bathrooms. While we may envision a rosy future in our beloved home, we might not think about the practicalities involved, such as making dinner from a wheelchair or navigating the front steps with a walker.
Home remodeling can solve many accessibility and support issues, but seniors also need to consider the possibility of needing personal assistance, transportation, and household help. While it’s hard to anticipate your needs in 5 or even 10 years, it’s a crucial step if you want to stay in your home. Surveys report that while 65% of seniors aged 60 to 70 find it easy to live independently, this drops to 43% after age 70. Of course, life is unpredictable, and we can’t plan for every scenario, but there are practical things you can do to stay independent for longer.
Retroﬁt for the Future
When it comes to adapting your home, some changes are obvious, such as adding bathroom safety fixtures and making sure kitchen cupboards are within easy reach. Others may not be as obvious. If you lose mobility, whether long-term or due to temporary health issues, you could literally find yourself locked out of your home until your front door is widened to accommodate a wheelchair. Fans of contemporary design are in luck because the current trend toward open-concept floor plans and spacious, walk-in showers are ideal for those using mobility aids. Resistant to installing hospital-style equipment? You’ll be happy to learn today’s bathroom grab bars come in a variety of shapes and finishes, and some pull-down shower seats wouldn’t look out of place in an upscale spa.
Many issues are even more easily solved. We know it’s hard to throw away those back issues of The New Yorker you’ve been meaning to get around to reading, but clutter presents a serious trip hazard. While you’re tidying up, make sure your rugs are securely fixed to the floor with pads or adhesive and electrical cords are out of harm’s way. Inexpensive night lights in hallways and bathrooms can help prevent sleepy stumbles when nature calls in the middle of the night.
The AARP FitGuide features general room-by-room assessments to help you identify ways to improve safety and accessibility in your home. You can print the 36-page guide or, if you have an iPhone or iPad, get the HomeFit AR app to scan your rooms for augmented-reality suggestions. When you’re ready to tackle major renovations such as improving your home’s lighting system, reorganizing your kitchen, or adding exterior ramps, seek out the services of a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS).
Make a Strategic Move
Needless to say, such modiﬁcations can be expensive, especially with an older home, and you may decide it makes more sense to sell and downsize. Do you dream of sharing a backyard with your kids? A longtime fixture of the West Coast property market, A.D.U.s, connected apartments or detached homes that are an “accessory” of a larger property, have recently arrived in New Jersey.
From home repairs and grocery runs to social interaction, building a support network is crucial for aging in place. As a Fellowship Freedom Plans member, you can tap into a full range of concierge services from trusted providers to home healthcare help when you need it. Social support and community engagement have been identified as among the key factors of healthy aging, according to a recent review of international data. Your FFP membership also includes access to all of the events and wellness facilities at Fellowship Village, so you can expand your circle of friends while remaining close to your existing community ties.
While it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed by the rapid pace of technological innovation, it’s worth coming to grips with the basics since technology provides an effective tool for independent living. There’s a legion of devices on the market to monitor your doors, appliances, and lighting and heating systems. Impress your grandkids by investing in an Apple Watch that acts as an all-in-one emergency contact device, health tracker, and phone, and it also tells time. Too high-tech for your tastes? Consider a stylish crossbody or lanyard case for your cell phone to keep it with you at all times. Technology can also act as valuable memory aids for appointments and medications. Seniors taking advantage of our home care services can use the VoiceFriend system for reminders and to connect with loved ones and care providers. Even if you’re a total technophobe, our dedicated team can talk you through it.
If you’d like to know more about how to safely and securely age in place, and how Fellowship Freedom Plans can help make that possible, give us a call today at 908.580.3850. We’d love to discuss which plan is right for you!