When it comes to the care of the elderly, a growing trend is the demand for services and support that allow older adults to grow old while continuing to live in their own homes or communities. This phenomenon is known as “aging in place,” and it is continuing to grow. Whether you are an older adult considering your options for the future or have aging parents whose needs you are considering, here’s what you need to know about the growth in demand for aging in place options.
The Senior Population Is Growing
At the time of the 2010 census, there were 40.3 million people age 65 and older in America. This was an increase of 5.3 million since the 2000 census. This growth was lager than the growth of the total population, and it is expected to continue as the Baby Boomer generation reaches its senior years. In fact, by 2020, estimates indicate the 65-and-older population could reach 55 million people. Of those in this age group, the 85 to 94 year old demographic is seeing the fastest growth.
Seniors Want to Stay Home
Aging in place is growing as a phenomenon for a number of reasons, but the truth is that most seniors want to stay in their current homes and communities. An AARP survey in 2014 found that 87 percent of adults age 65 and older indicate they want to stay in their current communities and homes as they age. This is higher than the 50 to 64 demographic, which reported 71 percent of people who wish to age at home. These statistics indicate that if you have a senior in your life, chances are strong they will want to age at home.
Accommodations That Make Aging in Place Possible
If you have a senior in your life, and that senior wants to stay at home rather than moving to senior community, you are going to need to help. Certain accommodations can make it easier for an older adult to stay home while aging. Here are some of them:
- Decreased need for stairs – From one-story homes to first-floor laundry facilities, the less a senior needs to use stairs, the better his or her quality of life will be.
- Ease of use in kitchen – Make sure the knobs and features of the kitchen are easy to use. Consider pullout shelving, lever-style handles and a motorized sink that can raise or lower as needed.
- Ease of access in the bathroom – Installing grab bars, roll-in or walk-in showers and tubs and taller toilets can help accommodate the needs of seniors with limited mobility.
- Wheelchair access – Finally, it’s not uncommon for a senior to need to use a wheelchair at some point. Consider making the home wheelchair friendly. You’ll need 32-inch wide doors, flat surfaces and minimal transitions between flooring types.
Healthcare Considerations for Aging in Place
If your senior loved one wants to age at home, you are going to need to consider the healthcare implications of this. One of the benefits of an assisted living facility is the skilled nursing care that these facilities offer. When a senior ages at home, this isn’t possible. Loved ones will need to consider accommodations they can make to ensure their senior has nursing care. For example, bringing in an outside nursing caregiver on occasion and arranging for transportation to medical appointments is going to be important.
While these do cost money, the overall cost of caring for a senior at home is much lower than the cost of a skilled nursing facility. With the right help and support, you can care for your senior loved done without the need to rely on a skilled nursing facility to do so.