What is aging in place?
Aging in place means staying in your own home for as long as possible as you age, rather than moving into a retirement or long-term care facility. Growing old in your own home can be a viable option if you just need a little help with your daily activities, have a close-knit network of family and friends close by, and can access the right home care services to meet your needs.
By exploring the range of services available, you can decide whether aging in place is the best way to maintain your independence and make the most of your golden years.
How home care services can help you age in place
While it can be hard to accept, most of us will need some form of support after age 65. You may be used to doing everything yourself, sharing chores with your spouse, or relying on family members to help out around the house. But as you get older and your circumstances change, it can become increasingly difficult to get around and take care of yourself. If the idea of moving into a senior community, nursing home, or nursing home doesn't appeal to you, home care services can help you live longer in your own home.
Home care services include:
cleaning service.Keeping a home running smoothly takes a lot of work. If you're having a hard time keeping up, you can delve into laundry, shopping, gardening, cleaning, and handyman services. If you're having trouble keeping up with bills and appointments, financial and health management can help too.
Transport.Mobility is a key issue for seniors. Maybe you arefind it difficult to driveor don't like to drive at night. Access to trains, buses, ridesharing, discounted taxis and seniors' shuttle services can help extend your independence and nurture your social network.
home modifications.If your mobility becomes restricted, home modifications can go a long way in keeping your existing home comfortable and affordable. Changes can include things like grab bars in the shower, ramps to avoid or minimize the use of stairs, or even the installation of a new bathroom on the ground floor.
Personal hygiene.Helping with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, or preparing meals, is called personal care or nursing. Home health professionals can provide personal care services ranging from a few hours a day to 24-hour home care. They may also provide limited assistance with things like taking blood pressure or offering medication reminders.
health care.Some health services can be provided at home by trained professionals such as occupational therapists, social workers or home health nurses. Check with your insurance company or health care provider to see what type of coverage is available, although you may have to pay some out-of-pocket costs.palliative careit can also be provided at home.
daily programs. Day programs or child care for adultsit can help keep you engaged with activities and socializing during the day, providing respite for your caregivers. Some day care programs are primarily social, while others provide limited health services or specialize in conditions such as early stage Alzheimer's.
[Read: Adult Day Care]
Is aging-in-place right for you?
It's natural to want to stay home as we age. The familiar can be comforting when facing the losses that aging inevitably brings, and your home is likely filled with fond memories and your neighborhood with familiar people. However, if you take a step back to look at the big picture, you can decide whether staying at home really is the right move for you.
Decisions to leave are often made abruptly after a sudden loss or health crisis, making the adjustment even more painful and difficult. Planning ahead and reviewing available home care services can make it easier for you and your family to make the right choice.
[Read: Housing options for seniors]
Of course, every individual's needs are different, depending on factors such as the level of support you receive, your general health and mobility, and your financial situation. Here are some of the points to consider when evaluating your aging-in-place and home care options:
location and accessibility.Where is your home? Are you in a rural or suburban area that requires a lot of driving? If you are in an area with more public transport, is it safe and easily accessible? How long does it take you to get to services like grocery shopping or doctor's appointments? It is also important to consider proximity to community services and activities.
Accessibility and maintenance of the house.Is your home easy to remodel? Does it have a lot of steps or a steep hill to access? Do you have a large garden that needs maintenance?
support available.Do you have family and friends nearby? How involved are they? Can they offer the support you need? Many seniors prefer to rely on their family for help, but as their needs increase, they may not be able to fill in all the gaps.Caring can be physically and mentally exhausting, especially if it's primarily one person, like a spouse or child. Your relationships can be healthier when you're open to the idea of getting help from more than one source.
Isolation.If you find it difficult or impossible to leave the house without assistance, isolation can quickly set in. You may not be able to pursue hobbies you loved, participate in community service that motivated you, or visit with friends and family. Losing those connections and support is a recipe for depression.
Illnesses.Nobody can predict the future. However, if you or your spouse have a chronic condition that is likely to get worse over time, it is especially important to think about how you will manage health and mobility issues. What are common complications of your condition and how will you deal with them?
financeCreating an expected expense budget can help you weigh the pros and cons of your situation. Alternative arrangements likeliving with assistancecan be expensive, but extensive home care can also quickly become expensive, especially with higher levels of care and residential or 24-hour care.
Your family's opinion. Of course, you have the final decision on where to live, but family members' input can be helpful. Worried about your safety or a health issue that will eventually require close attention? Listening to concerns and keeping an open mind is key.
Aging in place compared to other types of senior housing
If you're feeling overwhelmed with maintaining your home, are isolated from social amenities, or just crave more company with others your age,an independent living or retirement communitymay be a better option. Apartments are friendlier for older adults, and although residents live independently, most communities offer amenities and services. As the name suggests, independent living is more about making life easier than losing independence.
However, if you or your spouse have a lot of medical needs, it might be best to consider a nursing home or nursing home. For more information, seehousing options for seniors.
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Accept changes in your level of independence
It's normal to feel confused, vulnerable, or even angry when you realize you can't do the things you used to. You may feel guilty at the prospect of having to rely on outsiders to do things you are used to doing yourself. Or you may feel uncomfortable having "strangers" in your home. By acknowledging these feelings and keeping your mind open to new ways to make life easier, you will not only be able to better cope with your changing situation, but you will also be able to maintain other aspects of your independence longer.
[Read: Aging Well]
Be patient with yourself.lossesthey are a normal part of aging and losing some of your independence is not a sign of weakness. Allow yourself to be sad or frustrated about changes in your home care situation without blaming yourself or labeling yourself a failure.
Be open to new possibilities.Your loved ones can give you suggestions about home care services to make your life easier. Rather than dismissing them, try to keep an open mind and discuss the options. Sometimes new experiences and situations can lead you to make new friends or discover new opportunities.
Try a test run of the services.A trial gives you the chance to experience the benefits of home care without having to commit to anything long term.
Find the right home care for you
Once you've identified your needs, it's time to consider which home care services are right for you and where to find the best providers. Of course, it can be difficult to entrust your home or personal care to others, especially people you don't know. Whether you hire a home care provider directly or work through an agency, you can ease your fears by doing some basic research.
First, look for recommendations from family, friends, or neighbors. Perhaps there is a neighbor who visits you regularly or, for example, takes care of the garden. Sometimes local religious groups provide meals or social activities for seniors. Ask people you know if they have caregivers they can recommend. Your doctor or other healthcare provider can also provide referrals.
full service agenciestend to be more expensive, but offer shortlisted candidates who have already passed background checks. As the caretaker works for the agency, she handles billing and tax issues. They can also be pawned for issues like theft. If a caregiver leaves or doesn't exercise, an agency can usually find a replacement quickly and can also provide insurance coverage if a caregiver becomes ill.
Independent Supplierstend to be less expensive but require more footwork on your part. You must meet all tax requirements and complete background checks and identity checks. In case of illness or sudden termination, you are also responsible for finding a replacement provider.
Tips for Hiring Home Care Providers
How you hire home care professionals will depend in part on the type of help you are looking for. Hiring someone to do the shopping or yard work, for example, is different from hiring someone to do practical or domestic personal hygiene. However, there are some basic tips to keep in mind. Remember, the more time and homework you put into the initial hiring process, the better your chances of success.
- Conduct an in-depth interview with each candidate. The telephone screening of candidates should always be followed by a personal interview.
- Be meticulous in every task, skills and schedules and make sure the person you are considering is comfortable with all of them.
- Discuss compensation and payment plans. Do not pay for services in advance.
- Request multiple jobsEpersonal references, and check them carefully. Review the information provided and ask any references about the provider's trustworthiness, reliability, timeliness, and ability to handle stress.
- Perform background checks. If you work through an agency they are usually provided, but you should check carefully what is covered. Background checks can be done inexpensively through online agencies and will warn you of potentially serious problems.
- If you work with an agency, make sure you understand what is covered.Are there additional fees applicable to specific services or add-ons? If necessary, what are the procedures for canceling or requesting another provider?
- Don't be afraid to move on if it's not the right thing.It is important that you feel comfortable with a home care provider who provides services in the privacy of your own home. If not, try talking to the provider to see if any misunderstandings can be resolved. If not, don't be afraid to look for another one.
Talking with a loved one about home care services
It can be frightening and heartbreaking to watch someone you love struggle to take care of themselves. You may have noticed that your loved ones' homes have become a lot messier than they used to be, or that they are wearing dirty, stained clothes. Maybe it's clear they haven't showered in a while, or when you open the fridge there's barely any food in it. Or maybe your loved one recently fell or you watched a pan burn on its own on the stove.
Sometimes the deterioration can be gradual, or a sudden change in health or a significant loss can trigger problems. Whatever the reason, if you're concerned about the safety of a loved one or the condition of your home, it's important to approach the matter carefully.
Express their concerns as if they were your own, without blaming them.An older loved one may be more receptive to your honest expressions of concern. For example, instead of saying, “It's clear that you can't take care of yourself anymore. Something needs to be done,” try “I was very worried about you. It pains me to think that you might not get everything you need. What do you think we should do?"
Respect your loved one's autonomy and involve them in decisions.Unless your loved one is unable to work, the final decision on care rests with them. You can help by giving suggestions and ideas for home care services. If you feel that home care is not enough, what other options are available? You can frame it as something to try temporarily rather than trying to impose a permanent solution.
Try to find the real reasons for each resistance.A loved one who refuses to accept help may fear that they will no longer be able to do tasks that used to be so easy. It may be more convenient to deny it and minimize the problems. Perhaps they are grieving the loss of a loved one or frustrated that they can't connect with friends as easily as they once could. Or maybe they are uncomfortable with the idea of having strangers in the house.
Enlist the help of others.Does your loved one know others who have used home care services? Talking to others who have had positive experiences can sometimes help alleviate fear of the unknown. Sometimes listening to feedback from an unbiased third party, such as a doctor or geriatric nurse, can help a loved one realize that things need to change.
hotlines and support
home care services
- US United States.
Elder care finder– A national searchable database of community resources for elderly care, from transportation to meals and home care. You can also call 1-800-677-1116. (US Department of Health and Human Services)
- United Kingdom
help at home– A guide to understanding how to get care and support for older people in the UK. Or call 0800 055 6112. (UK age)
Elderly care information– Information on contacts and services, including home care services for the elderly. Or call 1800 200 422. (Australian Government Department of Social Services)
- You have
programs and services for seniors–Information about services for seniors, including home care services. Or call 1-800-622-6232. (Government of Canada)
food on wheels
Find a Meals on Wheels supplier near you- A searchable database that lets you find a Meals on Wheels program in your area in the US (Meals on Wheels Association of America)
- United Kingdom
Bring Meals Home (Meals on Wheels)- Find out if you qualify for home delivery and access a directory of suppliers in your area. (direct government)
Meals on Wheels Australia– Find your local Meals on Wheels service. (Meals on Wheels Australia)
Last updated or revised on February 24, 2023