The “theory” behind aging in place is that if you remain “at home in your own home” you will be happier, healthier and experience joy at not having to relocate and move away from all that is familiar and comfortable to you. Admittedly, we become very attached to our homes as they represent our independence, they contain many memories and they offer stability. But as good as all of that sounds, there are also very valid reasons as to why this may not be a good choice.
First, and foremost, is whether or not the structure you live in is or can be renovated to be a safe place for you to live. Lurking around the corner are changes to our minds and bodies that may require us to think ahead and plan for these inevitable “bumps” in the road of life. There are innumerable alterations and modifications that can be accomplished in these structures we call our home to accommodate potential vision, hearing, balance, memory or any of the other myriad of physiological differences we may undergo. But along with such changes come important questions such as
Can you afford it?
Would the renovations cost more than moving to a “safer” residence?
How would you pay for it?
How will you maintain your home if you remain (mowing, shoveling, repairs)?
Are there so many stairs that it would be dangerous? (Can you only live on the first floor?
Is the neighborhood one you want to remain in? Is it safe? Is it changing?
What will changes do to the value of the home? Are they so specific as to exclude a specific buyer in the future?
What are you sacrificing to remain where you are?
Are there services, amenities or activities that you could be missing out on if you remain?
There are many more questions, but I think you get the basic picture. The decision on whether or not your home can fulfill your needs is a crucial question to ask yourself when debating this decision.
Along with the importance of the safety of the structure is consideration of your health. You may now already be experiencing health issues that may make it unsafe for you to remain in your home as you age. Even though we cannot predict the future, we know already that it may be necessary for us to seek outside help in assisting us in caring for ourselves if we remain at home. Are those types of services available to you in the community where you live? Can you afford them? While I am a strong What Is Healthy Lifestyle proponent of “telehealth” (the use of technology, such as computers in your home, to communicate health care monitoring and delivery), this technology is in its infancy. Depending on your needs, it can be expensive, although costs are falling as this technology becomes utilized more and more, so the benefits may well be worth the price in your situation. If you remain in your home, can you get to your health care providers if you cannot drive? So, again, there are a multitude of points to ponder.
To further the question of the ability to get to your health care provider is the question of transportation in general. When you can no longer drive, do you have someone who can transport you? Public transportation, in some communities, is not at a level where it is available to seniors who remain in their homes. And although private neighborhood transportation may be available (such as a pick up services), is there a fee involved? If this piece of the “aging puzzle” is missing, then perhaps remaining in your home is not a good choice for you. Having transportation ensures that you will be able to continue your social activities, take classes, attend events and church and stay involved in life! This is a very valuable part of successful aging.
While remaining in our homes seems intuitively like a very positive thing, there are an endless amount of issues that need to be taken into consideration. And it may just be that relocating to a place that better suits your needs may be your best choice after all.
As you can see the decision to remain in your home as you age is not as easy as it may seem. But hopefully this information will serve as a Healthy Diet Menu spring-board for researching and starting that discussion with yourself or others on how to lay the groundwork for happy and health aging.