How Aging in Place Takes a Village

By Hazel Bridges (Aging Wellness)

Some seniors decide they don't want to move into a retirement community, assisted living center, or nursing home facility. According to the National Institute on Aging, many older people want to stay in their homes as they age, which is referred to as “aging in place.” And though aging in place can be beneficial for seniors who want to remain independent, they do need to have a plan to make their homes safe and find support when they need it.


Modifying Your Home


Consider some home modifications to make your life easier and safer. If you live in a multi-level dwelling, for example, a stair chair may be a wise addition. A curbless shower or a walk-in tub, as well as grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom, are also worthwhile modifications. Additionally, touch faucets are convenient for those with arthritis. You can also make your home more accessible for wheelchairs by widening doorways and lowering vanities.


Looking for a Roommate


If your health needs are such that you do not currently require a caregiver, it’s still important that you have someone looking out for you. Maybe you haven’t had a roommate since college, but it can be a good idea for some seniors. Sharing housing with a roommate can help you ease your finances, live more safely, and avoid feelings of isolation. If a roommate isn’t right for you, ask a neighbor or family member to check in on you regularly.


Finding More Friends


Seniors need social interaction just as much as anyone else. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, social connections are important for the physical and mental health of older individuals. If you do not have many people in your circle of friends, it’s not too late to make new ones. Consider getting a part-time job, or start volunteering. Also, look for classes at your local college that pique your interest. Community senior centers also offer classes and activities where you can meet friends. Gyms often have discounted memberships available for seniors. And while you are exercising, you can also meet some buddies.


Getting a Ride


As people age, they typically have a lot more appointments with doctors. If you no longer drive, getting to these appointments can often be a hassle. Sometimes, you can rely on friends, neighbors, and relatives, but you have other options as well. While Medicare does cover transportation for emergency and near-emergency services, it doesn't cover transportation for other medical appointments. However, Medicare Advantage plans can sometimes offer transportation assistance for non-emergencies through partnerships with various ride-sharing services. If you need transportation to doctor’s appointments regularly, this may be one good reason to switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.


Aging in Community


We've all heard the expression "it takes a village" when it comes to raising kids. Well, a village is essential for older people, too. In recent years, the village model has emerged as a support system for seniors who are aging in place. Typically, an older adult pays a few hundred dollars a year to join the village organization. All the senior members in one neighborhood (or group of neighborhoods) are teamed in a network with volunteers and service providers. Then, the village (which is a non-profit organization) provides necessary connections as well as discounted services. When a member is sick, another person in the village might bring food. If a member needs home repairs, the village provides the connection to a trusted service provider. The village movement allows seniors to age in place and stay independent while also having a support system and a social network. There are hundreds of villages set up all over the country.


Regardless of whether you become a village member, you need a network of friends and helpers if you’ve decided to stay in your own home through your golden years. For your health and safety, it’s essential to have a support system as you get older. Surround yourself with people who respect your independence, yet will be there for you when you need a hand.


Photo via Unsplash

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