If you are 45 years old or above, you’ve probably never asked yourself the question, “Why is aging in place important?” This article is for you. In short, it is a no-nonsense look at the idea of aging in place and why you should be thinking about it right now … even as young as 45. It can help you change your (and your parent’s) future.
You might have heard the term “aging in place”. You may have thought, “That’s for old people; not me.” Or, “I’ll think about that when I retire.” I think most people’s reactions to the idea are similar to one of those.
Well, if you are 45 or older and you haven’t given some serious thought to the idea, this article is going to help you understand why you absolutely should. (And, start today.)
What is aging in place?
As a recap, a person who is aging in place is living in the home of their choice for as long as they are able, while getting any support they might need.
Most commonly in the U.S., people age 65 and older either live with their spouse or alone in their own home. Which, makes sense to most folks when they think about it. People want to keep living in their homes as long as they can.
Why is aging in place important?
It’s all well and good, you see, until that thing called aging starts happening. You see, once you begin living that for yourself, you’ll start seeing changes in yourself; changes in your body, mind and abilities.
But, here’s the problem: you haven’t really prepared for those things.
The truth is that in the U.S. … your city … most likely your neighborhood … there are so many people who are struggling every day, because they didn’t plan and prepare for what later in life would be like.
Those people are having trouble doing the things they need to do every day, taking care of themselves, getting the assistance they need and continuing to enjoy their lives as a result.
It is a sad reality that if you don’t prepare, at some point you will reach a point where you will suffer.
You can sit there and say, “That will never be me. I have time.” But, statistically, you won’t do it. Unless, you make yourself start taking steps now.
Start with your home, then expand
Most often, I see people making changes in their homes, first. I think that is because it’s the thing most people associate with aging in place. (Though, it is only one of the things they need to include in their planning.)
Those changes are essentially remodeling their home or making specific modifications to help them stay in their homes longer. As a result, their homes become more safe and easier to live in.
What we try to encourage people to do is create a situation where they have everything they need for daily life on one floor of their home (called, “main floor living”). And, that this floor is easy to access. This includes a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and laundry room.
Beyond your home
I mentioned before about there being other things you need to incorporate into your aging in place plan. What you should do is begin thinking about the various areas of your life and the needs you may have later on, then make sure there are resources available to help you meet those needs.
To be very specific, that you can get what you might need, and you can get to it or it can be brought to your home.
Essentially, begin comparing the various services available in your city or town, to the wants and needs you might have at 70, 85 and beyond.
- Are there sufficient services available?
- Are there enough people (family, friends, groups, professionals) to help?
- How will you get out and be with people?
- How can you keep your health, home, finances and life maintained?
One final thing …
Here’s the real answer to the question, “Why is aging in place important?” This may seem a little unreal, but the truth is if you’re in your late 50’s or older right now, there may come a time when you won’t be able to get the help that you need. Even if you have the money to pay someone to help … there will be just too many people who need support.
That is a very real scenario, given the 76 million Baby Boomers there are (and 11,000 are turning 65 every day). In less than 15 years, approximately 20% of the population will be over age 65. (Up from 12.4% in 2010.)
More people needing help later in life, when we already don’t have enough services and support.
The earlier you start, the better chance you have of securing the support you will need later on.