Aging In Place: Plan for it
Deborah Glover was struggling to stay in the Washington Park home in Atlanta that her family had owned since the 1930s. Glover’s husband had died, and a few years later, Glover’s daughter died, leaving Glover all alone.
Glover’s health began to decline, and her house fell into disrepair. She no longer had running water in her bathroom. When Glover went to get help managing her high blood pressure and pain, health workers asked if she had any other concerns. Glover told them about her living situation.
Contractors believed it wasn’t feasible to renovate her home. However, Glover was connected to CHRIS 180, a social services organization in Atlanta, which offered her an opportunity to participate in an intergenerational housing experiment. CHRIS 180 would build Glover a house, pay all costs of running the house, and select young mothers to be placed in the home through the organization’s outreach and community housing program.
Glover, 72, agreed to the plan, saying she felt good about the arrangement.
“They have kids, and there may be some way that I can help. If I can be of assistance and offer a little good advice…” Glover said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “As long as someone is here, I don’t have to grow old alone.”
Glover’s feelings echo that of many older adults wanting to stay in their homes as they age but finding that their health, not having anyone to live with them, or their inability to make home repairs makes it difficult to live independently.
Healthy aging experts recommend older adults begin making plans to age in place, and administrators of active senior living communities prepare to face aging-in-place challenges.
The average age of seniors in an “active senior community” is 72 to 74 years old. However, within the next decade, some residents will want or need personal care and will resist moving into a residence that provides personal care, according to Lynne Moore, president of MDS Research Co., a national senior living and healthcare consulting firm in Fort Worth, TX. These seniors will expect to have services provided in their apartments and stay longer than they should in an “active” senior community. Moore says administrators must find a way to provide support services for seniors living in apartments while also effectively “maintaining the integrity of the active lifestyle” in the community.
Making Plans For Aging In Place
Aging in place sounds simple, but healthy aging experts suggest older adults research senior living options and the type of future care they may need. Ninety-one percent of people responding to a national survey said they had not done the research, while 34 percent of people responding to the Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group’s survey said they had not thought about their care needs at all.
As part of a plan to age in place, aging experts recommend older adults have a safety assessment done in their homes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls were the leading cause of death from unintentional injury among older adults in 2020.
Federal programs, operated mostly by state and county agencies, finance fall prevention and home modification projects for older adults and adults with disabilities. The programs offer services, such as home safety assessments, railings, ramps, and exercise programs.
Besides having a safety assessment, it is also recommended that older adults:
- Set up a support system It’s important to have people to rely on to help with personal care, grocery shopping, and other aspects of daily living. Those who do not have family members or whose adult children live far away may want to hire professional live-in caregivers to help with personal care, housekeeping duties, and provide emotional support and companionship.
- Plan For Medical Needs It’s a fact that health problems prompt older adults to visit their doctors more often than they did when they were younger. So, older adults should plan to have someone provide transportation to medical appointments or arrange to have a family member, home health care professional, or a professional live-in caregiver available to assist them.
Innovative Products Help With Independent Living
Senior Tech For Aging In Place
To help seniors remain independent, companies and tech firms are updating existing products to support smart technology and developing devices and machines that use robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Six of the popular products include:
1. Amazon Astro
Astro, Amazon’s household robot on wheels, provides home security monitoring when paired with Amazon’s Ring security system. Astro checks on older adults by following them from room to room. When paired with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, Astro can play music and podcasts, deliver calls, provide a weather report, the time of day, and much more.
ElliQ is a personal care robot described as the “personal sidekick on the journey to age independently.” ElliQ engages older adults in conversation, tells jokes, plays games that sharpen cognitive skills, gives medication reminders, provides video workout sessions, and does much, much more.
3. The Hero Pill Dispenser
The robot dispenser organizes different medications and lights up and chimes to remind older adults when it’s time to take their medication and when it’s time to refill it.
4. Current Health’s Patient Monitoring System
Current Health has an all-in-one platform that allows older adults to monitor their health. The remote monitoring system collects data such as heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation, and movement. Current Health analyzes the data to determine if the person needs care. The platform can also transmit the data to the individual’s primary care doctor.
CarePredict@Home is an AI-powered bracelet that monitors the wearer’s daily patterns and activities by using sensors placed throughout the home. The device can also pick up an individual’s behavioral changes, such as frequent trips to the bathroom, which could indicate urinary tract infections, or spending more time in bed, which could be a sign of depression. Family members and caregivers also have access to the data.
6. AI-powered Temi robots
Temi is described as a “versatile telepresence robot.” In other words, it does a lot. The robots have Alexa built in so they can communicate with seniors, play music and videos, control smart home devices, set up video chats with family members and doctors, and play interactive games.
In addition to choosing products and making plans, aging in place should also include finding ways to socialize, stay active, and be mentally stimulated. Staying active and engaged goes a long way in helping seniors stay healthy and achieve their goal of independent living.