Aging in Place: Now Is The Time To Start Planning
Aging in place is a great goal and aspiration for anyone who is starting to get older. It makes the aging process feel more comfortable. Even if you’re not at that point yet, there are some things you can start thinking about and preparing for right now, regardless of what your current age is or how far in the future you’re looking.
Thinking about these things, and planning them ahead of time can help ensure that you’re ready when the time comes. For example, if you are doing renovations to your home in the upcoming future, doing them with aging in place in mind can save you a lot of trouble down the road, but we’ll cover that in more detail in a few moments. There are many other examples of what you can do to prepare for aging in place.
Aging in Place Technology
It’s tricky to predict how technology will evolve in the next five, ten, or even twenty years. Regardless of the incredible things that become possible, they’ll still be based on current technology, because technology typically moves in steps. So, getting familiar with current technology means you’ll have an easier time learning whatever is current in the future. For example, if you aren’t comfortable with how to use a tablet yet, now’s a great time. iPads and other types of tablets might not be the main interface in a decade, but chances are that whatever we end up with will at least somewhat resemble today’s technology.
There are things like the Amazon Echo which can help you make video calls to your loved ones using the internet. Become comfortable with these types of technology will never hurt you down the road! This is especially useful for times when the world is dealing with a pandemic or other situations that could require lockdowns or having people stay at home. Doctor’s, nurses, therapists, teachers, and many other professionals are adapting and offering remote meetings, so being on top of how to use things like Zoom today will help you use whatever exists in ten or twenty years from today.
Aging in Place Remodelling You Can Do Now
To continue with the example of technology for aging in place, if you are re-wiring your home, it could make sense to include ports for ethernet cables, as a random example. This means you can plug devices into the internet from more rooms in your home, more easily. If you are going to need a stairlift to help you get up and down the stairs at some point in the future, and you’re planning to remodel soon, then it’s worth thinking about how your decisions today could impact your ability to install these types of things down the road. It may be worth waiting, in some cases, or speaking to a stairlift installer to find out which considerations you should make today to ensure it’s an easier install when you need it.
Are you re-doing your bathroom anytime soon? Are you getting a new tub? A bathtub with a door that opens, or with a seat, or with other accesability features (even if you don’t need them today) could make sense. Why install a new tub or shower, only to have to replace it again in a few years when you need something that’s more practical at the time?
It can feel silly to install these types of things if you don’t need them yet, but if you’re already doing upgrades and renovations, it can make a lot more sense to get ahead of it – then whenever you need them – you’re all set.
What About Aging in Place Communities?
There are communities filled with homes that have been specifically designed for aging into place, that you can choose to move into. This isn’t quite the same as aging in your original home, but these communities are designed with aging in place as the goal, and the living areas area already setup in an ideal way. The services around the little neighbourhood, including access to health services, are a big improvement over living in the middle of a regular neighbour, in some cases. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re already planning on moving at some point before entering the later stages of the aging process, it may be worth considering moving into a place that’s already setup and ready to go, in a community filled with likeminded individuals and all of the services and amenities that you’ll need.
Advice for Planning to Age in Place
It’s never too soon to start thinking about your plan for aging in place. Talk to people you know who are doing the same thing, talk to your loved ones to get their thoughts and really try to involve them in the planning so they know what to expect, and they know what your wishes and plans are.
Home Safety Check
The AARP offers some guidelines for ensuring that your home is safe. A few of these guidelines include:
- Ensuring that your floors are made from non-flip materials,
- Your tub isn’t slippery (a simple rubber mat can help with this),
- That there are grab-bars in the shower and by the toilet to help maintain balance, A
- Alert systems throughout the house that you can use if you need help (tools like an Amazon Alexa that is voice activated can also be good, learn more about virtual companion care.)
Medicare offers limited insurance coverage for long term care in certain scenarios, but enhanced coverage can be useful. Even if the plan is to age in place, sometimes life can take a turn, there can be a medical situation, an accident, or staying at home just might not be as practical anymore. Insurance for long term care can help ensure that you have the care you need. If you never end up using the insurance, even better! But it’s good to know it’s there.
Talk To a Certified Aging in Place Specialist
There is a profession of people who are experts when it comes to aging in place, so speaking to an aging in place specialist can be very helpful. They can help evaluate your home and they can offer suggestions for improvements and ways that you can ensure your home is safe for many years to come. You can find local certified aging in place specialists to hire, or you can find people to work with online who will also be able to help. There is also a lot of information freely available on the web, but having a pro assess your unique situation is not a bad at idea. They can help determine what needs to be done right now, while preparing a plan to adapt your home and lifestyle moving forward.