Latest on “Aging in Place” for seniors
Older adults who want to age in place may have to make modifications to their existing homes, according to a recently released study. What’s more, the “Aging in Place” study suggests that technology will play a key role in helping seniors remain independent.
The new study conducted by Primetime Partners, a venture capital firm, and First Longevity, a company that focuses on the growing longevity market, was released in December.
The fact that 90 percent of older adults in the study said they want to stay in their homes as long as possible “fuels the entrepreneurs who are creating new solutions in the aging-in-place sector,” Phil Newman, CEO of First Longevity, said in a statement about the study.
These new solutions will involve ways to prevent older adults from experiencing social isolation and loneliness, which affects approximately 7-17 percent of older adults today.
Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic showed how resourceful seniors could be in fighting isolation and loneliness. For instance, seniors used digital communication apps and devices, wearables, smart speakers, digital assistants, and companion robots while sheltering in place.
“People wrongly assume older adults are not tech-savvy,” said Abby Miller Levy, managing partner and co-founder of Primetime Partners. “In this study, we found that internet usage among many segments of seniors significantly increased during the pandemic to combat isolation and loneliness.”
Just as seniors are willing to embrace technology, older adults are also willing to remodel their homes, if that’s what it takes for them to live independently as long as possible. And, it appears that 2022 will be the year that seniors or their family members take on remodeling projects.
In a survey of more than 2,000 homeowners, 63 percent of respondents said they plan to invest in aging-in-place home improvement projects for themselves within the next 12 months. In addition, 6 percent said they plan to do so for a loved one, according to the survey conducted in November by Modernize Home Services, a company that connects homeowners with contractors and other home services professionals.
The survey found that:
- 17 percent of respondents were interested in walk-in tubs.
- 12 percent were interested in medical alerts.
- 11 percent want a seat within a shower.
- 8 percent want non-slip flooring.
- 7 percent were interested in stair lifts, ramp to doorway, and handlebars.
- 4 percent were interested in wider hallways.
Another 26 percent of respondents said they were interested in windows, roofing, bathroom expansion, additional entrance, walk-in shower, or new flooring.
Gregg Hicks, vice president of Modernize, sees a busy year for contractors “to capitalize on the increased demand for aging in place home improvement projects in the coming years.”
Companies Create Partnerships To Help Seniors
In recent years, home improvement companies, senior care agencies, health care companies, and other organizations have joined together to help older adults overcome challenges they will face while aging in place.
Some of the partnerships formed include:
1. Magellan Healthcare and DUOS
Social isolation is one of the top challenges faced by seniors. But a partnership between Magellan Healthcare, a managed health care company, and DUOS, a digital health company, provides an aging-in-place solution.
In December, the Magellan and DUOS launched a program that pairs seniors with trained personal assistants called “duos,” who help with everything from ordering groceries online, running errands, arranging for transportation, setting up medical appointments, using technology, and connecting with the community resources.
Leaders of both Magellan and DUOS say the ‘holistic, personalized support” program not only provides companionship but also addresses the health and wellness of older adults.
2. Lowe’s and AARP
While about 77 percent of people 50 and older prefer to stay in their current homes as long as possible, less than 1 percent of U.S. homes have what is needed to support aging in the home, according to AARP. For instance, homes may need to be modified to make it easier for older adults to manage stairways, and to ensure that bathrooms and kitchens are more user-friendly.
As a way to resolve this issue, Lowe’s and AARP teamed up to launch “Lowe’s Livable Home,” a senior-focused home modification service. Lowe’s will provide homeowners with stories, videos, and other educational content that will help homeowners make large and small changes in their homes.
The service will take a “universal design” approach when it comes to suggesting home modifications. For instance, a universal design also referred to as a “barrier-free” design, would have wider doors and hallways that could accommodate a wheelchair or a walker.
Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s chairman, and CEO said the program is “uniquely positioned to help address the customers’ desire for a one-stop destination with trusted resources and affordable solutions they need throughout every step of the journey.”
Rodney Harrell, vice president of family, home, and the community at AARP said the two-year collaboration between Lowe’s and AARP will help people “take a lifetime approach to housing.”
3. TruBlue Total House Care
TruBlue Total House Care and Helper Bees broadened their network to bring together home repair companies, home care agencies, senior assistance services, and others to support seniors who want to age in place. Both companies want to create a “one-stop-shop” platform for older adults.
“As a brand, we are dedicated to offering basic senior modifications and installations to help make aging at home more accommodating and safe for everyone,” said Sean Fitzgerald, president of TruBlue, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based home repair company that focuses on house care, home maintenance, and safety modifications for seniors.
Helper Bees, based in Austin, Texas, matches private-duty helpers with seniors who need assistance with everything from housework, to running errands, to caregiving. When it comes to caregiving, Helper Bees creates a profile of seniors and use technology to match their needs and preferences with two to three caregivers among their “hive of helpers.
Helper Bees began providing in-home care, meals, and nutritional support after acquiring healthAlign, a company that connects Medicare Advantage plan members with in-home service providers.
“The Helper Bees’ new, augmented platform offers a single pane of glass view into all services, risks, and benefits,” said Dr. Char Hu, CEO, and Co-founder of The Helper Bees. “While this is important to solving challenges right now, the creation of this platform enables the integration of all new aging-in-place technology. This creates a future-proof model for remaining in the home through a unified care journey.”