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So, you’ve decided you want to remain in your own home and “age in place.” Now what? You’ve lived there for decades. It was the perfect setting for the day-to-day busyness of the past: marriage, family, work and fun. It is your home, and you love it, but will it work for you now? Is it really the perfect place to grow old?

Take a good look around your house—and go through the following steps, as suggested by MetLife in their “Aging in Place Workbook: Your Home as a Care Setting.”

Assess your care needs.

What are your medical needs? What might your needs be in the future? What kind of care might you need? How often do you need help with bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, walking, using stairs, housekeeping, shopping, etc.? What equipment do you use on a daily basis?

Evaluate your home.

Does your home work for your needs? What needs to be changed? How easily can you maneuver around in your house? Evaluate the size of doorways, hallways and rooms. Consider the safety of the steps into your home or stairways within your home. Pay attention to the height of cabinets and counter tops.

You may need to hire someone to make certain changes, like creating a bedroom on the first floor, so you don’t have to go up the stairs to your existing bedroom, or adding a ramp or lift to assist you in navigating the stairs. Be sure to do your research and get several estimates, before you trust someone to do quality remodeling on your home.

Consider ways to use assistive technology. You and your home can be equipped with many helpful modern tools: fall sensors, a medication management system (to remind you to take medication), security alarms, fire alarms, a Personal Emergency Response System (to call for help), etc. Don’t be afraid to use new technology to make your life easier—and make it possible to remain living in your own home for longer.

Develop a care plan.

Who is available to help you, free of charge, when you need help? Family? Friends? Make a list of everyone and the times they are available to help. Then list the services you may need to hire: in home care, transportation, meals-on-wheels, etc. Consider the cost of these services and your budget.

As you compile your answers to these three sections, make a final decision about the needs of your home and whether or not it will work for your “aging in place” plan. Be sure utilize any financial resources that are available to you, Medicare, Medicaid, insurance, etc., as you carry out your plan. Be careful with your finances and beware of anyone trying to take advantage of you or your situation. And even though it’s hard to consider, make a back-up plan in case there comes a time when you are unable to remain living in your home.

That said, with planning, preparation and maybe a little adaptation, it’s very possible your home will continue to suit your needs for decades to come and be the perfect location for “aging in place.”

 

For more information on aging in place, read “Aging in Place Part 1: The Importance of Home.”