More and more older adults are opting to take steps that will allow them to age in place as they grow older, due in part to the rising costs of assisted living and other senior living communities. Additionally, being able to enjoy the independence and comfort of being in your own home, where you’ve spent many years making memories, is highly desirable for most adults today.
Challenges Associated with Aging-in-Place
Aging, unfortunately often comes with decreased mobility, chronic illness, and a gradual decline in health that can make it challenging to remain in the home setting. Aging in place is often more feasible for seniors with debilitating conditions when they have a live-in caregiver or spouse capable of helping with the activities of daily living (ADLs).
Mobility is another primary obstacle for seniors desiring to age in place. Even active seniors may experience decreased mobility, a loss of muscle strength, coordination, and balance, with aging, arising from slips and falls resulting in broken bones, arthritis, which can cause joint pain and inflammation that make performing everyday tasks such as bathing and dressing painful, if not impossible. If you have mobility challenges, chronic illness, or a disability, aging in place may seem challenging – but it’s not impossible.
Home Modifications Help Seniors Age in Place
Fortunately, technology is eliminating barriers to aging-in-place, providing valuable tools that can help you to continue living safely in your own home, with the help of part-time or live-in care-giving support and in some cases, entirely independently. One aspect of aging-in-place advancements is modifying your home to better suit your needs as you age.
If you have mobility challenges, consider modifying the home to accommodate one-level living or install chair lifts for easily navigating multi-level homes. Often, it’s possible to convert a space on the first floor to a bedroom and convert a half bath on the first floor to a full bath so that you don’t need to navigate from floor to floor.
Additionally, grab bars, rails on stairs and in hallways, the elimination of throw rugs, and replacing hard, slippery floor surfaces with better options – such as non-slip flooring materials – are all relatively easy modifications that can make your home safer and prevent falls.
Medical Alert Systems and Other Technology Promote Safe Aging-in-Place
Technology such as medical alert systems can ensure that you have access to emergency services in the event of a slip, fall, or health crisis. Medical alert systems aren’t new, yet they remain an important component in successful aging-in-place. In the years since the introduction of the medical alert system, a variety of advanced technology solutions that promote safe, independent living among older adults have emerged.
High-tech companies are introducing innovative tools for seniors who choose to age in place practically every day. Companies have introduced tools such as remote sensors that are placed strategically throughout the home. These tools allow your adult children, other loved ones, or caregivers to monitor your activities from afar.
Using these systems, your caregiver can log on to a dashboard to see if you have taken your medications, used the microwave, opened the refrigerator, driven the car (and returned home safely), and more. While it may seem like a loss of independence on some level, the peace of mind offered by such technologies is often a desirable tradeoff. For instance, if you haven’t opened the refrigerator, taken your medication, or even opened the bathroom door in a few hours, your caregivers will be concerned and check in to ensure that you’re safe.
The Rapid Pace of Technology Promises More Aging-in-Place Solutions
Real-time location systems are a lifesaver for older adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and at risk of wandering, allowing caregivers to ensure that you are safe in the home at any moment. More advanced medical alert systems can detect falls without you having to press any buttons or take any action at all, proving valuable for serious falls resulting in a loss of consciousness. Tech innovators are even coming up with solutions such as garments equipped with fall-sensing airbags that deploy to soften the impact when a fall takes place.
No one likes to think about these dangerous situations becoming reality, but having technology installed in your home that can keep you safe just makes sense and offers peace of mind for your loved ones. Technology advancement shows no signs of slowing, and with the rapid pace of innovation comes more viable tools and solutions that will make it safer for you and other seniors to remain in the homes that you love, independently, for many years to come.