An increasing number of older adults are expressing a wish to “age in place” or to remain living in the same residence for as long as they are able. A study from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that 87% of those over the age of 65 would prefer to remain in their own homes as they age. Unfortunately, health, safety, or financial concerns can sometimes make it impossible for someone to age in place even though they might wish to.
Benefits of Aging in Place
Comfort. Many adults wish to age in place simply because being home is where we feel the most comfortable and at ease. Moving into a new living space and transitioning to a new environment is challenging at the best of times. For older adults who may already be going through health or financial changes, moving can be especially stressful and disruptive. Familiar and comfortable surroundings can help ease the stress of the physical and mental transitions of aging.
Community. Another benefit to aging in place is staying connected with your local community and social groups. Interacting with family and friends, staying involved in a local church or charity, and saying “hello” to your neighbors at the mailbox are all forms of connections that help keep us active and engaged with our communities. A move later in life can make it more difficult to maintain these relationships and to find your place within a new community.
Challenges of Aging in Place
More Planning. Choosing to stay in your own home will require some additional planning to ensure your comfort and safety as you age. You may need to rearrange your living space to avoid stairs, install ramps or chairlifts, or retrofit your bathroom with extra handles or a walk-in bathtub. Arrange for someone to check in on you regularly and have a plan for emergencies. Other day-to-day activities like transportation, meal preparation, cleaning, and home maintenance tasks may require asking for or hiring extra help.
Changing Needs. Not everyone ages the same way or will have the same care needs, but chances are high you will need some form of care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70% of 65-year-olds will need long-term care at some point. Many seniors rely on family members or in-home caregivers for extra help as their care needs change.
Loneliness. While staying in your own home is often a source of comfort, it can also put some older adults at a greater risk of loneliness and depression, especially for those who have lost a spouse or are living alone.
Life Plan Communities & Aging in Place
Most people think of “aging in place” as staying in your own home for as long as possible and only bringing in extra help after you are no longer able to do things by yourself. This doesn’t have to be the only option for older adults wanting to age in place. Life Plan Communities, like Sunset, offer the benefits of aging in place while helping to minimize some of the challenges.
Avoid Multiple Moves. People typically move into a Life Plan Community as independent or assisted living residents. Private condo or apartment-style homes are usually part of a larger senior living campus. Residents are free to come and go as they choose and to set their own schedules. All the typical expenses of owning a home (mortgage, utilities, maintenance, landscaping, snow removal) are combined into one monthly payment. Homes are designed with safety features and residents have access to 24/7 care as needed. This helps avoid multiple moves or modifications to a private home every time care needs change.
Community. Senior living campuses like Sunset are built to help residents connect with one another and enjoy life. On-campus amenities like dining venues, social gatherings, worship services, educational classes, library, pool, and activity rooms make it easy for residents to stay engaged inside and outside the community. Even if care needs change, a resident remains part of their close-knit community and doesn’t lose their connections with friends and neighbors.
Peace of Mind. With on-call staff and access to additional care, residents no longer have to worry about how future needs will be met. Even during a transition to a different level of care, a resident will never have to worry about losing their home or place within the community. At Sunset, we create a Life Plan unique to each resident. This plan is adaptive to changing needs and is how we ensure a quality of life that nurtures the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of every resident.
About Sunset Senior Communities
As one of the largest Christian-based nonprofit organizations in West Michigan, Sunset provides trusted, high quality senior care and living facilities. We welcome everyone into a family-like living environment and provide care and services that focus on residents’ total well-being.
As a Life Plan Community, we help residents age in place by offering multiple levels of care. With options for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, in-home care, and rehabilitation, our continuum of care is designed to minister to each resident’s unique needs. Please contact us with any questions about senior living. We’d love to talk with you about our services and about life at Sunset.