As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, we’re starting to see a new trend emerge. Rather than relocate to an assisted living community, the majority of seniors are choosing to stay in their own homes as long as possible. According to AARP, more than 87 percent of Americans 65+ want to stay in their current homes and are looking for more options to age in place on their own terms. And we can’t blame them, staying home means comfort, security, independence, and not having to move or get rid of any prized possessions. It means living out their later years in a way that’s familiar and comfortable. But what does it mean for you?
If your aging parent comes to you with this in mind, chances are a difficult conversation will follow. You’ll both need to be very honest about the status of their health, mobility, finances, even their social calendar. In some instances, compromises will have to be made. To help with this difficult decision, we pulled together a simplified list of the things you should consider if aging in place is the desired course of action.
When considering the state of your loved one’s health, it’s important to plan for the changes that may come in the future. Aging in Place states that as we age, there is a greater chance of:
Decreased muscle strength or endurance
Reduced mental processing capabilities
Increased risk of falls due to balance
Increased risk of illness
If there are any more serious health concerns, such as those brought on by Parkinson’s disease or dementia, in-home care may be necessary. If doctors’ visits are part of the weekly routine, transportation to and from appointments is another factor.
There are some health benefits associated with aging in place. Staying home allows you to create an environment specifically personalized for your loved one’s needs. According to Visiting Angels, the improvement in quality of life tends to improve physical health as well. Additionally, the US National Library of Medicine reports that approximately 2 million infections occur in nursing homes each year. Staying home insulates seniors from the bacterial and viral risks found in senior living facilities, reducing their chance of contracting a serious illness.
If getting around every day becomes a challenge and no one is around to help navigate stairs or bathtubs, senior-friendly updates to a house can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, according to CNBC. There are simple updates like replacing rugs and improving lighting, installing grab bars and lever-handled doorknobs. However, more serious modifications may be necessary: adding a ramp, lowering cabinets, installing no-step showers or a generator to protect against power loss. Mobility is another area where future planning is important. Climbing a few stairs to reach the front door may not be a problem now, but in a few years that could change. This is another great reason to have a plan; you can spread out the expense and labor of modifying your parent’s home.
Although home modifications may seem like a hefty undertaking, the added comfort and familiarity your aging parent will experience by being able to stay in their own home are invaluable.
Medical attention, house modifications, transportation, home upkeep- all of these things add up in cost. While discussing your options, lay out all of your finances and really do the research for what you can afford. This may be another difficult part of the conversation as you plan for how many years you’ll need to supplement each option. Prioritize each cost by how important it is to your aging loved one’s well-being. If anything needs to be compromised, you should both be on board with how to handle it. For instance, if you aren’t able to fit “lowering the kitchen cabinets” into your budget, you may be able to find counter organizers to hold the necessities. We all want the very best for our loved ones, and finances are often a limiting factor. You can avoid disappointment later on by being upfront about your expenses and needs from the very beginning.
Despite high costs associated with personalized care and senior-friendly house modifications, aging in place is typically less expensive than living in an assisted living or nursing facility. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, seniors who choose to age in place can save thousands of dollars per month in care costs.
Social isolation is a huge problem for seniors. According to A Place for Mom, loneliness and boredom can lead to a quicker decline in physical health, cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, vulnerability to elder abuse, depression, high blood pressure, and even a higher risk of mortality. It’s important to have a social schedule and daily social interaction, so as to combat these issues.
In many communities, there are activities and social gatherings for seniors. You can volunteer for a local charity, join a club, or create a visiting schedule with family in the area. The simplest things- trips to the grocery store, calls from relatives and friends- can be so effective in warding off social isolation and the accompanying issues.
As a caregiver, it’s important to balance your own work and family caregiving responsibilities as well. The added emotional and physical stress of taking care of an aging parent can be harmful to your health, so be sure to make time for yourself and for others in your family as well.
Although aging in place presents its own social challenges, it also provides a sense of independence and dignity for your loved one. They’ll have control over their routine, activities, and life decisions. Ultimately, they can live their lives as they see fit, and enjoy freedoms that are unavailable to many elderly adults.
We never want to be less than confident that the seniors in our lives are alright. One major concern for seniors, especially when they live alone, is falling or otherwise getting injured and not being able to get help. If someone breaks into their house, if there is a fire, if anything should happen, we want to know they can get help quickly.
If a caregiver is around, the responsibility may fall on them. However, if there are still opportunities for vulnerability or if you would like to add a level of security to your loved ones, we can help. ADT Health offers products and services designed to help independent seniors stay safe. We offer medical alert systems, on-the-go pendants and bracelets with GPS capabilities, fall detection, emergency communication, and 24/7 monitoring. With these products, you don’t have to hold on to the fear of something going wrong while they’re alone. You can have some peace of mind, and they can have some independence.
In an effort to help protect the ones you love more completely, ADT has partnered with Senior Helpers, the nation's premier provider of in-home senior care, to bridge the gap between assistance and independence without compromising security.
While companies like Senior Helpers are invaluable in taking care of your loved ones, there may be times when their main job is to be there just in case something goes wrong. In these gray areas of not wanting to be alone but not needing professional assistance, ADT can fill in to help make sure everyone is taken care of, 24/7. The new program will help provide Senior Helpers’ customers with more independence while at the same time, continued safety and support in the absence of a caregiver.
The partnership provides benefits through multiple touchpoints, including:
ADT Medical Alert Monitoring
Notifying Senior Helpers’ office management if a customer is hospitalized due to a medical emergency
In the event of a medical emergency, a caregiver can stay with your loved one and comfort them while ADT takes care of the phone calls to 911 and provides all of the necessary information to first responders
Families of seniors have options to monitor their aging parents remotely
Senior Helpers’ customers will now be able to maintain their current lifestyle and level of safety when their caregiver isn’t on-premise by using one of two ADT medical assistance options:
Medical Alert Plus provides a full in-home monitoring service that offers fall detection and home temperature monitoring, along with a wide monitoring range (300 feet from the base) so seniors can enjoy doing the things near their home they love like gardening or relaxing in the yard.
On-The-Go is a more mobile option, offering flexibility for customers to leave their homes and still have monitoring and support if needed. The device has fall detection and GPS capabilities.
If your loved one comes to you about wanting to age in place, it’s time to make a plan. You can be the most help by working with them to ensure their needs are met and their dignity is kept intact. Take your time in talking through all of the aforementioned factors, and keep in mind that you have plenty of options. With modern technology and services like those provided by Senior Helpers, there is no reason to be less than confident about the well-being of the seniors in your life.
ADT Health customers enjoy the independence and security of this top-of-the-line technology, backed by expert installation, and 24/7 monitoring. For more information on ADT Health and Senior Helpers, please visit www.adt.com/health and www.seniorhelpers.com.