Aging is inevitable: How and Where is not. One of the decisions facing those living into older adulthood is where it’s best to do it. Eighty seven percent of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they grow older, to “Age in Place”.
According to http://www.ageinplace.org/ “Aging in place is a rapidly growing lifestyle option for Americans approaching or beyond retirement age. It facilitates remaining in the home of your choice for as long as you would like as opposed to relocating to a nursing home or other medical facility. You are able to do this because the services you need to live a secure and safe life are now available to you in your home.”
The choice to remain living in one’s current environment has many benefits:
- Maintaining a greater degree of personal independence & more control over one’s living situation.
- The comfort of remaining in a familiar setting with familiar daily routines.
- Avoiding the physical and emotional toll of moving to a new environment.
- Saving money. Staying in one’s home is typically less expensive, even with the cost of modifications to make living at home safer.
Aging in place successfully requires planning by individuals, couples and extended family. A uniquely tailored plan is necessary to meet the physical, mental and emotional changes that affect the daily life of an older adult.
Aging brings changes. The aging process is a personal, individual experience. However, there are some things which commonly happen that can be planned for: the possibility of reduced vision, decreased muscle strength or endurance, reduced mental processing, increased risk of falls, increased risk of illness, reduced hearing, and decreased mobility.
Here are some questions families and communities could be asking when planning for Aging in Place:
- How can I afford to stay in my home and maintain it without financial or physical strain?
- What do I need to do to make my home a safe environment?
- How do I take care of my health and get regular exercise?
- How can I get around or travel without incidents or anxiety?
- What financial resources are needed to maintain my present lifestyle?
- How can I keep a social life and make new connections?
- What sources will there be for entertainment and learning?
- Will caregiving be needed for me or my spouse?
- How can technology assist?
Individuals don’t live in a vacuum. We are affected by the context in which we live. Communities and states need to support citizens facing the challenges of aging and to prepare for the projected new influx of older adults. Transportation, housing options, recreation and health care are just some of the issues that require broader support to address the challenges faced by older adults.
One sign of progress is an executive order signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom calling for the creation of a Master Plan for Aging to be developed by October 1, 2020. The Master Plan will serve as a blueprint that can be used by state government, local communities, private organizations and philanthropy to build environments that promote healthy aging.
We are fortunate that we have three organizations on the Coastside providing a continuum of education and support to individuals and couples in all stages of the aging process. The Coastside Adult Day Health Center and Senior Coastsiders offer services from their location on Main Street. Village of the Coastside is the newest resource for older adults.
The Village of the Coastside is a community-based organization that works to maximize the independence of its members and minimize isolation through social, cultural, health/wellness, and educational activities. The Village is beginning an Aging in Place project to develop strategies and resources for Coastside residents to use in planning for a successful aging in place experience. See their website Aging Better Resources link for questions to ask yourself when planning for Aging in Place.
Terry Plank is Vice President of the Village of the Coastside, a community of active older adults who share activities, skills and support for aging in place.Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn more at villageofthecoastside.org. Phone: (650) 440-5030