Monday, October 30, 2017

Aging in Place Planning (Research, Video 1:50)

Many older adults view aging in place as the gold star of living well during declining years. It means having the health, social, and physical support you need to live safely and independently in your home or community. Aging in place is an advanced life event that supports independence and well-being. But planning ahead for aging in place has to be done with the same commitment as planning for any important life event. A lack of planning can greatly impede the realization of this life event for many older adults.

What do older adults perceive as their roles in planning for aging in place? Focus groups with 68 older adults over age 65 and living in the communities (rural, urban, and suburban) answered open-ended questions about their perceptions of future health events, needs, and planning. Three investigators analyzed and identified these five emerging advanced life events that impacted their ability to remain at home:

1) Hospitalizations
2) Falls
3) Dementia
4) Spousal Loss
5) Home upkeep issues

Many subjects reported a lack of planning for aging in place and perceived that life events such as those listed above simply would not happen to them. Other reasons for not planning ahead included these:

1) Uncertainty in future
2) Being too healthy/too sick
3) Offspring influences
4) Denial/procrastination
5) Pride
6) Feeling overwhelmed
7) Financial concerns

Although many older adults had not communicated their needs to their offspring, they still expressed reliance on offspring for taking care of their future advanced life events. If life events such as aging in place are to happen in increasing numbers, the reasons for older adults not planning ahead must be addressed vigorously to prepare them for future home needs and a voice in their care along with their offspring and/or other advocates.

Aging in place takes planning. Preparing for future needs is the key. The following video offers helpful resources to improve living while aging at home. Keep in mind that, while aging in place is what many older adults say they want, aging at home until the end of their lives is no guarantee of a high quality of life. Each situation has unique needs to be considered that may include other living options such as retirement communities.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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