Be Proactive to Aging-in-Place

By Michael Edlen
Special to the Palisades News

“Aging-in-place” can be planned and maintained if those choosing to stay in their home give careful thought to present and future health and support needs. There is a continuum over time for this planning process and it relates to health, mobility, care, and service needs, and not necessarily to specific ages.

During the time when there are no immediate needs, those individuals can look into options, discuss choices with family members, and work out future strategies and a course of action.

This stage may involve planning a later move to an active adult community, down-sizing to a second home or moving to a location closer to relatives. However, careful home modifications can enhance independent living for many years by taking into account the need for safety to best prevent accidents or falls.

This early period of aging in place can be enhanced and extended to the degree that individuals are able to stay healthy, active, safe and alert. It is also a period of opportunity to participate in community service and to be involved in volunteering and lifestyle activities.

There may come a time when changes in life and health circumstances necessitate home modifications or perhaps consideration of moving to more suitable living arrangements.

While progressive or chronic health issues may not be urgent, this then is the time to do research in home care or relocation options either to be closer to family or to a home environment that is more practical. This is also the time when there must be access to health care providers and perhaps the use of one of the emergency response devices currently available.

Then, there may come a time when a more urgent need or sudden changes in health or life circumstances require immediate adjustments to the home or even to the living situation. In this circumstance health conditions may require a full-time care provider or result in a move to a med- ically oriented care facility.

However, if actions have been taken years earlier regarding safety and practical needs, it may be easier to continue to maintain in the home.

The following are several factors to consider proactively before there is an urgent unexpected need brought on by a fall or an accident:

  1. Safety: Are there elements of risk in the house such as a lack of hand rails or grab bars, dim lighting, clutter, difficult entry to the home or to storage areas?
  2. Access: Is there room to get through doors and locations in the home with a walker or wheelchair, allowing for mobility in the home?
  3. Assistance: Are there relatives or friends nearby who can be of help if needed?

By carefully thinking through the vari- ous modifications and alternatives and then taking action, perhaps years before the time of need, individuals may be able to stay comfortably in their home far longer. Aging-in-place can become much more challenging if individuals do not explore possibilities before the need to immediately deal with circumstances when they do arise.

(Editor’s note: Michael Edlen has been a consultant to seniors for many years, and his office is glad to provide copies of previous articles that go into great detail on house changes that enable staying safer for longer in your home. Call: (310) 230-7373 or visit: Michael@MichaelEdlen.com.)

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