Stairs and old age

Aging doesn’t have to mean moving. Some older Americans choose to age in place.  A home with stairs in it isn’t a bad thing. Walking up and down stairs is great exercise. In fact, some people go to the gym and use a stair stepper and climber equipment to strengthen their legs.

Stairways can be kept safe with lighting, and railings. No-slip strips can be put on indoor or outdoor stairways.

I read an article that states that 66% of ninety-year-olds have trouble with stairs. That means that 34% of 90-year-olds can handle the stairs. Taking the stairs whenever possible at home or work is a great way to keep legs strong for those who want to be in the 34%.

 

Stairway
cat on the stairs

Fewer seniors live in senior housing

Senior housing survey

The survey was conducted by the Minnesota Board on Aging.  Considering the age range of  “seniors” is more than 50 years this isn’t surprising. People are living longer and healthier and retiring later. If 65 is the new 50 the data could be a bit skewed.

One of the issues with housing is that we are usually building or not building for the needs of the last decade because it takes so long to plan and build.  Rent now it seems like there are far more vacancies in assisted living apartments than there are in nursing homes.

When my parents were house hunting at the age of 78 my father made it clear that he did not want to live with a bunch of old people.

Most Elders do not want to move

queen anne house
Queen Anne

It is a common experience. We gradually realize that our mom or dad or both are having trouble maintaining their home.

There may be maintenance issues or maybe they are having trouble remembering to pay the bills or maybe they no longer drive and have trouble keeping the refrigerator and pantry stocked.

Sometimes they really do fall down and can not get up. We worry about them being there alone. We check on them or maybe we get them an emergency call button.

No matter how hard they struggle do not expect your elderly loved one to say that they want to move. Most do not want to move and by elderly, I mean people who are well into their 80’s.

There isn’t anyone in a memory care facility who asked to go there. Most if not all of the people who have moved to long-term care (nursing homes) did not ask to go there.

Seniors who move to assisted living often get nudges from others and sometimes it is their own idea. Almost all of the people I know who have moved to senior apartments have decided to rent instead of own and it was mostly their choice to move.

People who live in senior apartments tend to be younger and healthier than those who are in assisted living and nursing homes.

If your elder needs to move but does not want to move keep in mind that they are adults and they have the same rights that all of us have. We even have the right to make bad decisions.

We can make suggestions to our parents and we can take them on tours and show them some of the places they could be living.

We can help them get more help at home. They can have meals or groceries delivered or both. There are housekeeping services too.

We can help them keep organized with bills and paperwork and there are services that can come into the home and help sort and organize pills.

Don’t be too surprised if they are resistant to having people come into their home.

Disabilities become more common as we age and loss of mobility is one of the most common issues facing the oldest of the old.  Sometimes grab bars and a walker will work for a time.

Unfortunately, it is often hospitalization or an accident that triggers an emergency and results in a move for the elderly. I recently listened to an expert suggest that we all need to plan ahead.

That sounds good but it is almost impossible to do if we don’t know ahead of time how long we are going to live, what we are going to die of and what kind of medical care we will need during various decades of our lives.

We don’t know what medical advances will be made from one decade to the next and unfortunately, people who suffer from dementia don’t always realize it and dementia impairs their ability to make good decisions.

Do you want to move out of your home when you are old or would you rather stay there and age in place?

Don’t be surprised if you are met with resistance when trying to help an elderly parent or friend who needs to move.

Senior Real Estate Specialist

See What is a NORC

Also, see Retiring with a mortgage

See Getting mom’s house ready to sell

Aging in place with stairs

Aging doesn’t have to mean moving. Some older Americans choose to age in place, rather than moving.  A home with stairs in it isn’t a bad thing. Walking up and down stairs is great exercise. In fact, some people go to the gym and use stair stepper and climber equipment to strengthen their legs.

Stairways can be kept safe with lighting, and railings. no slip strips can be put on indoor or outdoor stairways.

I read an article that states that 66% of ninety-year-olds have trouble with stairs. That means that 34% of 90-year-olds can handle the stairs. Taking the stairs whenever possible at home or work is a great way to keep legs strong for those who want to be in the 34%.

Stairway
cat on the stairs

Will baby boomers stay put or move?

neighborhood
neighborhood

No one knows for sure what baby boomers will do as they age. I am a baby boomer but on the younger end of the generation. The generation spans many years and I don’t think we will age or retire the same way and if we all wanted to move into some kind of senior housing we couldn’t because there won’t be enough of it. By staying put we are contributing to the shortage or homes for younger generations.

The first time I heard the term “NORC” was a couple of years ago at the West 7th Community Center.  I had to stop the meeting and ask for a definition.  NORC is an acronym for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community.

NORCs are very real estate related and they are not planned communities. Rather, they evolve as people:

  • Age in place. Many communities house residents who raised families there decades ago and never left. They strongly wish to continue living in their homes of long standing.
  • Move into the community. A pattern of in-migration often brings seniors into age-integrated communities, typically in urban centers, where the seniors have access to amenities, culture, and other activities.
  • Move out of the community. Out-migration, typically reflecting the departure of younger residents from rural areas, leaves sizable populations of older residents behind.

I would rather have my own home refurbished or retro fit so I can stay put. I don’t buy into the idea that stairs are the enemy or that doors have to be widened for wheelchairs. I think leg exercises that involve resistance training and yoga are the way to go.

I would rather make my home more energy efficient and add more technology. Yet it doesn’t hurt to have a home with main floor bedroom and a main floor shower that could easily be converted to a roll in shower.

We tend to lump seniors into one group. There can be a huge difference between the over all health of a 65 year old and a 95 year old. There are 70 year olds who are caring for their elderly parents. I see it all the time. I also know people in their 80’s who have full or part time jobs. We have a 70 year old president and senators in their 80’s.

Your doors are locked but scammers call

Older Americans become victims of crimes that they  are not prepared to protect themselves from.  They understand locks on doors but they don’t understand the dangers of answering the phone or the door when someone knocks.

Hardware_locks_2Some of my elderly neighbors keep the front screen locked, and beyond that door is a porch door, also locked.  Beyond the porch door is the interior door to the home, that sometimes has multiple locks.  The doors are kept locked.

Fewer violent crimes are committed against older Americans than against any other group but they are more susceptible to certain types of crime than any other group.

They are crimes like credit card fraud, mortgage fraud and identity theft. Scammers call during the day trying to get credit card numbers or bank account numbers. Phishing emails that look legitimate arrive almost daily.

There is some consumer information about crimes against seniors on the MN department of commerce web site, and I found some information on the FBI’s web site, but I don’t know how many older Americans are getting this information. The Minnesota site has a fairly comprehensive guide that covers financial planning and outlines common scams.

If you have friends, parents or neighbors who are older Americans, read up on crimes against seniors and don’t be afraid to talk with them about it. Educate yourself and teach someone else. It may be  a challenge to get past their spam blockers, caller I.D.’s and locks, but they need to know that there are people out there who can trick them out of their home, no matter how many locks it has.