If you are a part of the baby boomer generation, chances are you also fall into what is known as the sandwich generation, meaning that you have had the distinct pleasure of simultaneously caring for both your children and your parents. Having seen and experienced the challenges of declining health and mobility as a caregiver, you might be left wondering how you can avoid succumbing to some of the same hardships that you watched your own parents go through. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take now to ensure that you are able to age in place, avoid having to move into a nursing home, and enjoy a better quality of life.
A Broader Look at the Benefits of Aging in Place
Aging in place can have a lot of mental and emotional benefits. One survey showed that the biggest fear among seniors was loss of independence followed second by the fear of having to move into a nursing home. It may come as a surprise that the fear of death came in last with only 3% reporting that it was their biggest fear.[i] Having to leave your home can have a huge emotional toll that ultimately serves as a catalyst to other health problems. Aging in place can actually increase quality of life and longevity.
One of the most practical benefits of avoiding a nursing home is cost. A lot of boomer advice columns will focus on financial planning and making sure that you are able to afford adequate care on a fixed income. And while this is a real concern, doesn’t it make more sense to cut down on costs rather than try and hoard money?
Let’s look at it this way:
The average rate for a nursing home is $248 per day
An assisted living community will cost around $3,550 a month
Day services run an average of $70 per day
A home health aide costs will cost around $21 an hour[ii]
Yet with a little bit of planning, you can avoid having to pay the high costs of specialized care and ensure that you are able to stay in your own home for as long as possible.
In a word: plan. It is perfectly understandable that most people don’t want to spend time dwelling on the worst case scenarios when it comes to their health, but a little planning can go a long way when it comes to being able to age in place.
Limited and deteriorating mobility is one of the biggest challenges that often prompt seniors to move out of their homes. Fortunately, there are affordable solutions that can be installed in your existing home that will allow you to safely navigate your home and avoid falls, which often cause more catastrophic health problems.
Stair Lifts: One of the most common mobility devices will allow you to overcome any steps or staircases in your home. New models typically start at about $1,500 and some companies even offer used and reconditioned models at discounted prices. A stair lift will allow you to access all levels of your home without assistance and help prevent falls.
Lift Chairs: A lift chair is a simple and practical device that may make the difference between whether you are able to age in place or not. This mobility tool is designed to offer the same comfort as a recliner while also safely lifting you to a standing position and gently gliding you to a seated position. You will be able to sit and stand without assistance and some people even find that they are able to get better quality sleep in their lift chair.
Walk-In Tubs: The bathroom can present a special host of problems. Slippery surfaces and tub ledges can increase the potential for falls. Installing a walk in tub or converting your existing tub can provide you with enough safety and mobility to be able to bathe by yourself.
The list of mobility tools and devices that will allow you to age in place goes on and on. From scooters and vertical platform lifts to computerized monitoring systems, investing in individual tools to equip your home can not only prepare you to age in place, but save you tens of thousands of dollars over other care options.
The key is to research your options. Be aware of what kinds of products are on the market and start to prepare your home now for aging in place.
The best place to start is by visiting the websites of online retailers who sell mobility and disability equipment. This will allow you to get a better idea of the kinds of products available and how much they cost without getting yourself into a high pressure sales situation. You might also consider finding a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) in your area who has been trained to help create a comprehensive plan for aging in place.
[i] “Seniors Fear Loss of Independence, Nursing Homes More Than Death.” Marketing Charts, 12 November 2013. Web. 21 August 2013.
[ii] “Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs.” MetLife Mature Market Institute, 2013. Web. 21 August 2013.
Amy M. Blitchok is a professional writer and researcher who specializes in issues relating to seniors, aging in place and mobility technology. She works to disseminate important information that will help everyone live a longer healthier life and age comfortably and gracefully. Currently, she writes for AmeriGlide.com and contributes to several major industry related blogs and websites.