How to stay in your home safely as you age.
What Is Aging in Place?
Aging in place is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”
"Most of us want to age in place, rather than in an institution, like a nursing home,” says Kumar Dharmarajan, MD, MBA, cardiologist, geriatrician, and Associate Chief Medical Officer at Clover Health. “Common sense home modifications can help us thrive at home, even as we get older.”
There are many simple ways to ensure older adults can remain safe and comfortable at home. Here are three to get started.
1. Make Easy Access a Priority in Your Home
Place often-used items in easy-to-reach places. Shift food and kitchen tools to lower shelves. Assess the organization of closets. Move items from higher to lower shelves: Think waist-level.
2. Update for Safety’s Sake
Add handrails and additional fixtures in the bathroom and along stairways. Exchange doorknobs for lever handles, which are easier to use for arthritic hands. Secure runners and throw rugs. Use cable staples or cord organizers to tuck away electric cords.
3. Stay Connected
Make communication with sources of support handy. Maybe it’s a personal emergency response system (PERS) or a speed dial number of a family member on a phone.
4. Complete an Advance Health Care Directive
An advance health care directive, also called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person to make decisions on your behalf if you can no longer speak for yourself. As a caregiver, you want to make certain your loved one has completed an AHCD.
The Family Caregiver Alliance provides detailed information about AHCDs, how to complete them, and what they cover. Prepare for Your Care is another resource that offers a step-by-step program and tools in multiple languages.
Aging in place can be a wonderful option for those who would like to remain in their homes as they age. Find tips from the National Institute on Aging for what you can do to plan ahead to safely age in place here.
This article was originally published in the fall 2021 issue of Clover Living magazine. Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to Clover Living magazine for free (if you aren’t already subscribed) here.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan.
Published on 3/25/22
Photo credit: iStock