Aging in Place - Four Smart Ideas
by Claudette E. Paäge
Innovative models of aging support are emerging in anticipation of the retirement of an estimated 80 million baby boomers. Studies show that nearly 90% of older Americans will remain in their own homes for the remainder of their lives. Aging in place means growing older while staying in your home or community and accessing needed support services. While not a new concept, creative aging in place projects are exploring options that meet the social, medical and financial needs of seniors while allowing them to live in a familiar, diverse, multi-generational environment.
1. Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities
Naturally occurring retirement community (NORC) describes a community, apartment building, or neighborhood where people live for a long time, into their retirement years. NORC's are organizing to develop and/or access services for elders, such as social, recreational and education programs, household maintenance assistance, meal delivery, transportation and emergency response.
2. Professional Support Services
Professional service providers such as Geriatric Care Managers are taking up the challenge of helping seniors stay in their homes. Services vary but may include planning for care and medical needs, planning finances, facilitating family relationships and helping solve the problems of daily living.
3. Accessory Dwelling Units
An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is an extra living unit on a property. Commonly called a "mother-in-law apartment" an ADU can be an addition to an existing structure or a separate structure, typically with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living space. Some municipalities across the country are making it easier to create ADU's to house seniors.
ADU's have a number of benefits. They allow two or more generations to live on the same property providing opportunities for mutual support, companionship, and care giving. Seniors may live in the main house and their adult children in the ADU or vice versa. With an ADU seniors can remain independent yet have assistance nearby. Alternatively, seniors may construct ADU's as rental properties to provide the extra income they need to remain in their own homes.
4. Designing for Aging in Place
Whether renovating a home to meet the changing needs of a senior citizen or building an ADU, certain design features can make a residence safer and easier for an aging loved one. Basic features include:
- One-story living
- Non-slip floors, especially in entryways and bathrooms
- Low maintenance interior and exterior
- Good lighting
- Levered door hardware
- Handrails for any steps
- Hallways and doors at least 36 inches wide
- Accessible bathroom appliances
Expanding Options for Aging in Place
The 2006 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act created the Community Innovations for Aging in Place Initiative to fund community projects enabling seniors to remain independent and age in place. NORCs, ADU's, designing for aging in place and professional support services are three of many concepts aimed at allowing older Americans to live safely and comfortably in their own homes. The options should expand significantly in the coming decade.
Claudette Paäge is a confidential financial and senior care consultant for busy professionals, individuals and families and retirees. She has made a career out of helping people wrest control over the challenges of everyday living. If you or a loved have questions about Aging in Place in Westchester, NY Claudette can help. She has an experienced Care Manager on staff. Please call 914-725-0343 with senior care or home health care related questions, or if you need assistance for a loved one.
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