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The aging in place myth

diningrmI used to believe that people could age in place if they planned ahead and found the right kind of housing. I now know that aging in place is a myth except for those who drop dead or who die suddenly.

It is very hard to plan ahead when it comes to aging and housing. No one seems to know how long they will live or what kind of health care they will need during the last decade of their life. Most people do not die suddenly and can require a lot of care in the last years of their lives.

People who like to plan ahead and who have planned ahead may be surprised to find that conditions like Alzheimer’s disease require a lot of care and usually result in the need for special housing and around the clock care. Will you develop Alzheimer’s? If you do develop it how old will you be when it is diagnosed and how long will you live with it?

We can age in place for many years if we are in good health but most people in their 80′s are one hip fracture away from a nursing home or assisted living which to many seniors is the same as a nursing home in that it seems more like an institution than a home.

Moving from a large home that has stairs into a smaller home with no stairs certainly makes sense and is one way to age in place at least until more care is needed, as is living someplace where shopping is close and there are taxi cabs and public transit. Most people outlive the ability to drive a car.

4 comments on “The aging in place myth
  1. sd says:

    I don’t agree that aging in place is a myth. Times and our culture have changed to make the need even more critical.

    It’s not enough to simply eliminate stairs, though. You or a loved family member may need doorways and a bathroom big enough to allow a walker or wheelchair to manuever or a walk-in/roll-in shower. Or kitchen remodeling to allow wheelchair use and eliminate “upper” cabinets.

    In extreme cases, it may be necessary to arrange for a bulky lift device or even space for a live-in attendant (though THAT person will be able-bodied enough to live up- or down-stairs.)

    Much of that is possible even in the older houses in our neighborhood. We’ve done it in a relative’s 1920s house. It mostly takes awareness. And money. :-)

    The State of Minnesota has said for many years that it will not be funding new care facilities (like nursing homes). But people still will get old and suffer disabling accidents. MOST of our legislators are smart enough to know that you can’t fix problems by taking away their funding. So funds which were designated in the past for care facilities and service to the elderly/disabled will be diverted increasingly to age-in-place programs and home modifications/services (lawnmowing, snow removal, etc.) which will allow people to stay in the homes in which they now reside.

    • Teresa Boardman says:

      I agree that times are changing and tbat they need to. There are some conditions that make aging in place impossible. It will work for some but not for all

  2. sd says:

    True, there will be some structures and some people for whom this will not work. But it is FAR less expensive to keep someone home than it is to attend to them in a nursing home. Free-standing facilities like that will be an alternative only for those who really really need that level of help.

    • Teresa Boardman says:

      Agreed. Sometimes in home around the clock care is the mosy cost effective. Not a fan of nursing homes.

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