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The Difference Between Aging In Place and Getting Stuck In Place

The Difference Between Aging In Place and Getting Stuck In Place

By Susan Williams

Most of us want to age in place.

Just in case you don’t happen to be familiar with what this term means, here is how the US Centers For Disease Control And Prevention defines it;

the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level“.

And an AARP study found that 3 out of 4 adults over the age of 50 would like to age in their homes and community.

This makes perfect sense to me. Really, how many of us would like to leave all that we know and love and go live someplace that we don’t want to?

But here’s the challenge.

As much as we may want to age in place, we also have to be aware of certain risks so that we don’t in fact get stuck in place.

Author and Professor Dr. Stephen Golant recently wrote an article for the American Association On Aging entitled Aging In Place – Or Trapped In Place. In his post, Dr. Golant identified a number of issues that we need to be aware of when aging in place and ensure that we don’t ignore the signs of when it may be time to consider other living alternatives.

Here are just some of the things that he mentioned;

Increased Home Maintenance

As we age, so will our homes. This will result in the need for increased home maintenance. Replacing windows, plumbing repairs, heating and cooling issues, roof leaks are all part of the ongoing management of maintaining a home. Not only can some of these be expensive but even replacing a light bulb can become a risky task if we have to climb up on something.

The Need For Renovations

You may be able to move around your house with ease right now, but those stairs may not be so easy to fly up and down in a few years time. Or how about your bathroom? Climbing in and out of your tub could become a slippery risk down the road. Or even climbing the stairs just to get into your home might be an issue at some point.

Retirement Living published some estimated costs for some renovations you may need and they ranged in price from $800 to $50,000 depending on what you may require. This isn’t an inexpensive undertaking or something you can necessarily do quickly. These items need to be planned for from both a time and money perspective.

Mobility Concerns

Chances are today you may be able to jump in your car and go where you need to go whenever you want. But what if you weren’t able to drive? How close is the nearest bus stop to you? Or could you really afford to take a taxi or Uber whenever you need to go someplace?

As much as we may hope that self driving cars will be the solution, we are still a long way off from this technology being part of our everyday lives.

Also attached to a lack of mobility often comes one of the largest concerns with aging. Social isolation and loneliness. If you are unable to leave your home to see people or stay involved in your community, there is a risk you could become a hostage within your own home.

Over Attachment To Our Homes

Our homes, how could we not be attached to them? It’s where we raised our kids, enjoyed time with our friends and celebrated all our major life events. It’s where our children and grandchildren will come home to and we know our neighbours. It is filled with all the memories and memorabilia of our lives. It’s close to everything we know – our doctors, our dentist, our community centers, our local stores. It’s no wonder we don’t want to leave and move somewhere else.

But this can be dangerous. Our homes can also turn into cages if we are not careful.

As we spend our money on maintaining them we may have to cut our expenses to pay this which may then further isolate us as our disposible income declines. Our neighbours may move away and our doctors can retire. As Dr. Golant pointed out, we might turn into passengers rather then drivers as we wait in our home for people to pick us up and take us where we need to go. Our social interactions can become limited to the people delivering services to our doors or our social communities online. Our need for support as we age may increase but we may not have the ability to get it when we need it given a lack of available care workers. We may end up taxing our family as our dependency and reliance increases on them causing them high levels of stress and anxiety.

So, What Should We Do?

As with everything, knowledge is power. The more aware we are of the possible risks of a situation, the better we can plan and prepare. So, when it comes to aging in place, we need to be realistic and open to a change in plans when necessary.

Ideally, we will all live a long, healthy and happy life in the place we want to live. But if this isn’t the case, hopefully we will have the ability and flexibility to shift our attitudes and attachments so we actually end up aging in the right place – wherever that may be.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.