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Aging in Place Safely: Key Considerations for graceful experience

The Growing Trend of Aging in Place

The United States is experiencing a demographic shift with a rapidly growing older population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double by 2060, reaching 94.7 million. 

According to a survey by Today’s Homeowner, 89% of people aged 55 or over would like to age in place. Additionally the survey highlighted concerns of living in our own homes into older age, including with day-to-day tasks, loneliness and being able to afford in-home care. 

For the majority of us, the majority of our wealth is in our home. And we want to remain living in our homes, so selling and downsizing is often an option of last resort. Our home is more than the physical, it’s where our memories live and are tied to. And - small rant - society puts negative pressure on leaving our homes by using terms like ‘empty nesters’. Maintaining the family home is a benefit not just to older adults wanting to age in place, but extended family looking to visit and build/maintain stronger family bonds.

Ultimately we’ve all been programmed to buy a home and worked hard for it.

While the first step is to afford being able to age in place by securing sufficient additional finances for our longer lives - which is why Graceful Finance started by launching its Home Pension products - this article focuses on best practice for safely aging in place.

However, safely aging in place is easier with planning. It is worth considering various factors, from home modifications and healthcare to social connections and financial planning. 

In addition to the considerations below, Graceful Finance’s Aging in Place bundle provides a one stop shop of trusted providers to help solve simple and complex needs around the home. 

1. Home Modifications and Safety

Above all we want to know Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa are safe in their homes.  

Most people (and their family) consider how to adapt the home for aging in place. As people age, their physical abilities can change, especially for everyday tasks. 

Common modifications to ensure safety and accessibility include:

  • Eliminating Fall Hazards: Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Removing loose rugs, installing grab bars in bathrooms, ensuring adequate lighting, and keeping walkways clear of obstacles can add peace of mind.

  • Accessible Bathrooms: Bathrooms can be particularly dangerous. Walk-in showers, raised toilet seats, and non-slip flooring can significantly reduce the risk of falls.

  • Lever-Style Doorknobs and Faucets: These are easier to operate than traditional round knobs, especially for individuals with arthritis or limited hand strength.

  • Stairlifts and Ramps: For multi-story homes, stairlifts can provide safe access to upper floors. For those with mobility issues, installing ramps can make it easier to enter and exit the home.

Most modifications can be easy to implement. 

2. Healthcare Management

We’re all familiar with the increasingly larger pillboxes we become dependent on as we age. As our health needs become more complex with age, having a robust healthcare plan is helpful:

  • Proximity to Medical Facilities: Living near hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies can make it easier to manage health conditions and access care quickly in emergencies.

  • Home Healthcare Services: For those with chronic conditions or mobility issues, in-home healthcare services, such as nursing, physical therapy, and assistance with daily activities, can be invaluable.

  • Telehealth: With advancements in technology, telehealth services allow older adults to consult with healthcare providers remotely, reducing the need for travel and exposure to illness. There are increasingly affordable direct pay options like (asked Tyler for name). 

3. Social Connections and Community Engagement

Loneliness can have a negative impact on mental and physical health - it’s a key reason people want to age in place, so they remain near family, friends and their community. Maintaining strong social connections is vital for overall well-being:

  • Staying Connected: Regular interaction with family, friends, and neighbors helps combat loneliness and provides emotional support.

  • Community Programs: Many communities offer programs specifically designed for older adults, such as senior centers, exercise classes, and hobby groups. Participating in these activities can enhance social ties and provide a sense of purpose.

  • Volunteering: Engaging in volunteer work can be rewarding and provide opportunities to connect with others while contributing to the community.

4. Technology and Smart Home Devices

One of the few positives from the pandemic is we all got comfortable with video calls. Technology can play a significant role in facilitating aging in place, to help people and their families feel safe about aging in place:

  • Medical Alert Systems: These devices can summon emergency help with the push of a button, providing peace of mind for both the individual and their family.

  • Smart Home Devices: Voice-activated assistants, smart thermostats, and automated lighting can make daily tasks easier and safer.

  • Health Monitoring Devices: Wearable technology like the most recent Apple Watch can monitor vital signs and activity levels. Beyond the ability to detect health issues early and provide valuable data to healthcare providers, these wearables help family members feel secure that they’ll be contacted remotely in the event of a fall.

Projects like AgeWell New York were piloted to integrate smart home devices, remote monitoring and telehealth services so older adults aging in place had comprehensive care and support. While this specific program ended at the start of 2024, it’s worth checking for similar initiatives in your local community.

5. Financial Planning

We tend to be fine in retirement until we aren’t. We’re all living longer, which is great. But when life happens and we end up needing more liquidity. 

Aging in place can be more cost-effective than other options, but it still requires careful financial planning. Considerations include:

  • Budgeting for Modifications and Services: Home modifications, healthcare services, and technology investments can be expensive. It's important to budget for these costs and explore potential funding sources, such as long-term care insurance, veterans’ benefits, and community grants.

  • Income Stability: Ensuring a stable income through retirement savings, pensions, Social Security, and other sources is critical. Working with a financial advisor can help create a sustainable financial plan.

  • Graceful Finance’s Home Pension products: As we’re all living longer, the cost of financing that longer life often falls on our family or our home. The traditional way for the home to fund that longer life is to sell the family home and live somewhere else, often as a renter. Graceful Finance’s two finance options for safely aging in place are called Lifestyle and Legacy - and each comes with Graceful’s aging in place bundle. 

Graceful Finance’s Aging in Place bundle

The needs of older adults aging in place are different, and therefore Graceful Finance provides a one-stop-solution so that all the questions older adults and their families have about aging in place can be answered in one place. 

From fixing things around the home to sourcing trusted care providers, all of these services are a button click away:

  • Maintenance: Making small or large fixes around the home using trusted local contractors that are fully vetted and insured.

  • Modifications: Ensuring the home is safe with common in-home modifications to make aging in place a secure experience 

  • In-home care: Searching for trusted providers can be a bottomless exercise. By vetting suppliers in advance, Graceful Finance gives older adults and their families peace of mind on sourcing in-home care options.

Benefits of Aging in Place

Our homes are our foundations for life. They provide comfort for not just us but our extended family. They are provide:

  1. Independence and Autonomy: People value their independence and the ability to make decisions about their daily lives. Aging in place allows them to maintain control over their lifestyle and routine.

  2. Familiarity and Comfort: Living in a familiar environment can reduce stress and enhance emotional well-being. The comfort of one's home, surrounded by memories and personal belongings, contributes to a sense of security and stability.

  3. Community and Social Connections: Remaining in their communities enables older adults to stay connected with friends, neighbors, and local support networks. Social engagement is an important factor for positive mental health and overall quality of life.

  4. Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to institutional care, aging in place can often be more cost-effective than long-term care facilities.

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