According to projections by the Joint Center for Housing Studies, the number of homeowners age 65 and over will increase by 35% from 2010 to 2020, and 75% by 2030. The oldest members of the baby boomer generation are now reaching retirement age, and many of them will be faced with important housing decisions. Some will need the extra care provided by an assisted living environment, and some will choose to spend their later years in the comfort of their own homes. This is referred to as aging in place, and it is an option many people are choosing.
With today’s modern technology, mobility and safety options, and available community services, aging in place has never been easier.
Mobility and Safety Issues
Versatile Stair Lifts
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University estimates that 44% of the 25 million households with residents age 65 and over have a need for accessibility features due to disability or mobility challenges. If you have a two-story home or basement, a stair lift may provide easier access to all levels of your home, which is critical for those who choose to age in place. Stair lifts for elderly adults can be installed on both straight and curved stairs, making them an excellent option for those who have difficulty navigating the stairs.
There are basic models for those who are budget-minded and higher-end, high-tech models for those who want more options. According to AARP, 87% of people age 65 and older would prefer to remain in their own homes as they age in place, and installing a stair lift can be one way to ensure your independence if you choose to do so.
Safety and Mobility Devices
Those choosing to age in place may need to consider safety issues, especially in situations where mobility is a concern. According to the CDC, one in four seniors falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people age 65 and older. Addressing mobility concerns can greatly reduce the risk of falls.
There are many devices that can make aging in place easier and safer for you. Depending on your needs, you may consider mobility aid devices, such as canes, walkers, or motorized scooters to help you get where you want to go. Safety devices, such as handrails and non-slip bath mats may help to minimize the risk of falls, and if you have difficulty getting into and out of the tub or shower, accessible tubs and showers make bathing much safer.
Advancements in Available Technology
Modern Smart House Technology
With voice-controlled IoT (Internet of Things) devices becoming more prominent in homes, you have convenient options for controlling your appliances and other devices. IoT refers to the network of devices and appliances that are connected through your home’s Wi-Fi, enabling you to use voice commands to control them.
These devices can include anything from Alexa or Amazon echo to kitchen appliances with sensors, which will allow you to do anything from turning down the thermostat to turning lights on and off and controlling home entertainment equipment. The possibilities seem endless, and this voice control technology comes in especially handy if you have mobility issues.
Smart Phone Apps
According to Pew Research Center, four out of every ten seniors owned smartphones in 2017, which is double the rate of smartphone ownership among seniors in 2013. As more seniors have continued to use smartphones, the technology and applications available have also continued to improve.
With applications that let you consult physicians through your smartphone, you can have convenient and easy access to medical assistance. Pill reminder apps can help ensure you do not forget your medication. Food delivery services also use smartphone technology to allow you to order healthy food to be delivered to you.
If you have low vision, there are apps that will magnify text and light it up for you to make it more readable. Smartphone technology also allows you to access automated doorbell and security camera apps to see who is at the door and even respond to them through your smartphone.
Prescription Assistance Options
Managing prescription medications can be a chore for anybody, especially when it involves taking medications at different times during the day and evening, but there are options available that can streamline this process into something more manageable. The traditional plastic pill containers work well for some people, but for others, it may not be enough. If you require assistance with medication, you may choose to have your prescriptions delivered in prepackaged envelopes with the date and time of day stamped on the outside so you will remember to take them at the right time.
There are also smart pill dispensers that store your medications and automatically dispense them at the right time. These devices operate on IoT technology, just as many other smart technology devices, so they connect to your healthcare providers through an online portal. Some devices may actually be able to give you reminders and reorder your prescriptions for you when your supply is getting low.
Some seniors who wish to age in place may benefit from additional outside help or community services to provide assistance on a day-to-day basis. You may choose to have someone come in every day to help with household chores, meal preparation, paying bills, and basic personal care needs. This means that if you need a little extra help to maintain your freedom and independence, you will be able to get this assistance with specific activities when needed.
When aging at home, some seniors can experience isolation. This can be a real problem for many people, causing depression and loneliness. Your local Area Agency on Aging may be able to provide you with a list of services or other resources available to you in your community. Some of these services and benefits may include caregiver workshops, health education, senior center services and activities, home-delivered meals, legal assistance, and transportation assistance.
As a senior, you may be faced with making difficult decisions about your living situation as you age. If you choose to remain in your own home, there are so many options for assistance and advanced technology that aging in place has never been easier.