Is it any wonder that as we grow older so many of us want to remain in our own homes? After all, our home is often the space where we have lived for years, if not decades, a place that reflects who we are and the aspects of life we find most comfortable and fulfilling. Our home can be the place of some of our best memories. It can afford us whatever independence we want to retain and a sense of stability amidst a sea of changes, losses, and/or uncertainties that can accompany aging. Our home is often in a location where we have established roots and cherished connections. Because the landscape of our own home is already familiar, we may have a greater sense of safety there, both emotionally and physically. Additionally, with assisted living facilities and other communities coming at a cost, it may also be a wise financial decision to stay where we are.
A study, “Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, and posted on MarketingCharts.com, asserts that nearly 90 percent of those who are Boomers and older want to age in place without having to move from their homes. More than half (53%) are concerned about their ability to do so.
In addition to some of the better known modifications one can make to a home (grab bars in bathrooms, handrails on stairs, bright lighting, accessible light switches, cabinets, doors, no entry lips, etc.), the study showed that many people are also opening to using new technologies which offer promise for being better able to Age in Place. Technologies can assure greater independence and include items such as: sensors in homes to monitor health (e.g.: breathing and pulse rate); computers, smart phones, and programs like Skype and FaceTime which enable online connection with loved ones and essential care providers; and, tablets offering large print magazines, newspapers, and books. There continue to be advancements in medical alert systems and gadgets, as well as apps and programs which enable the tracking of the resident(s), their medications, and their appointments. Some technological devices can also alert caregivers in the event of an emergency situation.
The issue of such technologies was even the topic of the Senate Special Committee on Aging’s hearing last week. Although it was clear technology may offer peace of mind, as well as cost savings to programs like Medicaid, the panel cautioned about needing to also be mindful about ensuring individual privacy and safety, as well.
Additionally, Aging in Place and the accompanying technological tools may not be the right or best decision for everyone. Luckily, there are many options for those who either do not want, or are unable, to stay in their own home. Assisted living facilities are not the only option, either. There are an increasing number of possibilities to accommodate lifestyle preferences, which also enable a sense of community. These can include: active adult communities for those over 55; co-housing options (living in your own place and sharing a common area, such as a community garden and/or common room or building for gatherings); shared housing options (e.g.: mother-in-law apartments or living with other housemates); and, intergenerational communities in which residents may also assist each other with needs such as babysitting or ride-shares.
There are several positive impacts of longevity and the accompanying growth in housing options. These include potentially boosting the economy and providing ample opportunities for entrepreneurs of all ages to develop and provide products and services which will assist and enrich lives, regardless of where we follow our hearts to make our homes.
What type of community do you think is ideal for you and/or your loved ones? Do you have any new ideas for enhancing housing options for those over 40? Or new entrepreneurial ways of serving the Aging in Place movement?
(Image Credit: Wreath by dichohecho, Flickr.com)