A 6-Step Guide to “Age in Place”
1. Take a hard look at your finances.
Arrange a meeting with a trusted family member and a banker. It’s critical to understand your financial resources, how long they’ll last and what housing options are the most cost effective for you. Be sure to consider all costs associated with aging in place, including: home modifications; transportation to medical appointments, shopping and other errands; in-home caregiver for house upkeep and medical purposes; property taxes and insurance.
2. Assess your home and determine what modifications are necessary.
There are often design changes that must be made to ensure that staying at home is safe and comfortable. Make sure there is at least one stair-free entrance to your home. Update lighting inside and outside so that all walkways and stairs are well lit. Firmly secure all carpets to the floor to prevent tripping. If a bedroom and bathroom do not or cannot exist on the first floor, consider installing a chairlift. At a minimum, install handrails on both sides of the stairs. Install grab bars in the bathtub or shower, and near the toilet.
3. Make security a priority.
Older Americans are often targets for scams, identity theft and other criminal behavior. Be cautious about who you allow in your home and who you disclose sensitive information to. Install up to date and easy to use locks. Make sure your front door has a peep hole or a security monitor so you can see who is outside. Consult someone you trust when hiring a contractor, financial adviser, etc. Never give out your personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller.
4. Look into community resources.
If mobility is limited, look in to senior services offered in your area. Many communities have established nonprofit programs that offer transportation and food delivery to assist older Americans at a reasonable cost. Make sure to stay active and eat a healthy diet.
5. Be prepared for possible emergencies.
Keep a list of all emergency contacts on your refrigerator or by a phone. Consider a Personal Emergency Response System. Transmitters can be worn as a bracelet or around your neck and require the simple push of a button to send a signal to a call center. Have your address number visible from the street so emergency responders can easily identify your home.
6. Re-evaluate every six months to make sure all needs are being met.
As you age, your needs inevitably change. Take time twice a year, or as needed, to sit down with your trusted family or friend and make sure your current living situation is still the right one.”