Why Is Aging in Place An Important Option?

Aging In Place Means Independence And Security To Seniors.

One of the primary concerns (and fears) of people as they grow older is that they may have to leave their home - a major disruption and cause of stress and unhappiness for them.

Having to move out of their home means leaving behind a comfortable, setting, a community that is familiar to them, a sense of ‘fitting in’ and many memories.

There are many reasons for this strong desire among American Seniors to stay at home and age in place:

  1.         Home represents comfortable, familiar, personal surroundings.

  2.         Home provides a sense of control and independence.

  3.         It means they are still a part of the outside world.

  4.         Living at home offers them a sense of safety & security.

  5.         Home means family, friends and neighbors are still nearby.


For Many, Aging In Place Is About Choice, Dignity and Respect

For most Seniors, aging in place means not having to move from your home or the place of your choice, and being able to accommodate your changing health and care needs.  It also means not having to move from your present residence in a crisis or because of changing health issues.

Aging in place doesn’t mean that everyone wants to live in an individual residence.  Some people choose to move and age in place  where they will feel more comfortable for years to come. This can include non-healthcare environments like retirement communities or other types of Senior housing which provide maintenance-free living, convenient on site services, activities, transportation and other services and products that enable them to remain where they are even as their health needs change.

Aging In Place Successfully                                     Requires Careful Planning & Preparation

Many physical, mental, and psychological changes accompany aging. Making some physical changes inside and outside of your home will help you age in place safely and much more comfortably.

The aging process is blamed for many problems seniors encounter with daily activities.  Very often however, it’s the home itself that causes the problem.

Most residential housing is geared to young healthy adults. Until recently, builders haven’t taken into account age-related conditions like reduced mobility or limited range of reach. Consequently, many homes, apartments, townhouses and condos don’t accommodate the physical and sensory changes that older adults encounter as they age. What appear to be insignificant home features can have significant effect for a person with even minor aging issues.

One of the bigger challenges as people age is identifying safety issues that may be unique to an individual based on their particular aging status, health conditions and the living environment.

  1. Careful observation of the person and evaluation of their living space can help focus on such issues.

  2. The use of a good checklist in assessing the home environment is helpful.

8 Things You Can Do                                                                     To Help Prevent Falls Wherever You Live

1. Exercise regularly. Exercise makes you stronger and improves your balance and coordination.

2. Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all the medicines you take, even over-the-counter medicines. Some medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy.

3. Have your vision checked at least once a year by an eye doctor. Poor vision can increase your risk of falling.

4.  Get up slowly after you sit or lie down.

5. Wear sturdy shoes with thin, non-slip soles. Avoid slippers and running shoes with thick soles.

6. Improve the lighting in your home. Use brighter light bulbs (at least 60 watts). Use lamp shades or frosted bulbs to reduce glare.

7. Use reflecting tape at the top and bottom of the stairs so you can see them better.

  1. 8. Paint doorsills a different color to prevent tripping.

3 More Quick Personal Safety Tips

1. Keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone.

2. Put a phone near the floor in case you fall and can't get up.

3. Consider wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you fall and can't get up.

Source:  The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of         Unintentional Injury Prevention


What is a "NORC”

A NORC is a community or neighborhood where residents remain for years, and age as neighbors, until a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community develops.

A NORC may refer to a specific apartment building, or a street of old single family homes.  Residents have chosen to stay where they have raise their families, retired and want to live out their lives.  Many older neighborhoods of big cities or older small towns develop into naturally occurring retirement communities.

More than 27% of seniors live in a NORC.

Especially in these naturally occurring retirement communities, it is possible to band together and develop, or seek help to develop, access to services to aid those needing assistance, thereby retaining the highest quality of life for all residents as they age.

  1.   Fair housing laws provide for a complex with 80% of its residents over 55, to become officially age restricted. Another classification for restricted age is for 100% of residents to be above the age of 62, but this is rare in an evolving NORC.

  2.    For many years the law required an age restricted community to offer significant amenities and services if it was age restricted. That is no longer the case; but to compete, and attract residents, we still see most age restricted communities offering amenities and services to serve their residents.

Significant amenities and services of Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities may include:

    Social and recreational programs

    Continuing education programs

    Information and counseling

    Outside maintenance and referral services

    Emergency and preventive health care programs

    Meal Programs

    Transportation on a schedule

  1.   AARP studies show more than 85% of people over 50                                                     want to stay in their homes as they age.

  2. More than 70% of seniors spend the rest of their life                         living where they celebrated their 65th birthday.

  3. Aging in place will play an increasingly larger role in Senior housing as Baby Boomers join the ranks of the Senior  (60 and over) population.


The Housing Industry’s Definition of Aging In Place Means Something Different

The Senior Housing industry uses the term “Aging in Place” to mean the types of senior housing they offer.  For example:

  1. CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) offer communities and different types of residences that enable you to live and age in (a new) place.

  2. Multi-levels-of-care housing facilities or campuses market "Independent Living", "Assisted Living" and perhaps Alzheimer's care and Skilled Nursing in one location.  They offer the opportunity to age in place - but you have to move there first.  And in many cases you must also move from one wing  or area of the campus to another if your needs change and you require increased or different care, services and/or  accommodations.

Most Seniors Prefer To Age In Place

Changing medical and health  care needs are good reasons for Seniors to consider their housing needs, and make plans for the future.  This is especially true if Seniors want to age at home. 

By anticipating and planning for your changing health and care needs - and making modifications to your home before the need arises - can help you live comfortably and more safely at home.

Find home safety and accident prevention checklistsHome_Safety_Checklist.html

Knowing your options, making plans and preparing for your future health and care needs are precious gifts you need to give to yourself.

Home Modifications & Senior-Friendly Products

Many seniors avoid home modifications and helpful technology items designed for people with disabilities because these products have an industrial appearance. No one wants to have their home look like a hospital.

Consumer demand and computer technology is now pushing institutional products to be redesigned to be more acceptable in the home.  These products are called Assistive Devices or Assistive equipment. 

Assistive equipment is any kind of tool, device (including furniture) that can simplify caregiving or make the living environment safer for an ill, disabled or elderly person. These can include:

  1. Chairs designed to make it easier to sit in and get out of

  2. Enhanced high & low frequency tones for doorbells and telephones

  3. Grab bars and hand rails with decorator colors

  4. Hospital type beds with wooden headboards and footboards

  5. Products that are easier for arthritic hands to grip, handle & operate

  6. Larger print for declining eyesight

  7. On/off buttons with color contrasts

  8. Walkers in bright hues to create contrast when being used

There are many ways to obtain assistive equipment for the home. Talk with your physician or home health care provider about your particular needs and the best way to obtain assistive equipment.

Assistive equipment makes homes and living environments safer and more comfortable for Seniors to age in place.

Adjustable beds with wood frames.

Comfortable, Easy-In & Out Chairs

Beautiful parks are found in mature urban and suburban neighborhoods.

NORCs may provide bus transportation to city amenities, local shopping, education and recreation programs and other social services.

Neighborhood community groups may help organize city help projects, meal programs and other services for Seniors.

Senior Advocacy & Consumer Protection Organizations Access America for Seniors (Transportation Services)

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049
Phone: (202) 434-2300
FAX: (202) 434-2320

American Public Health Association
Gerontological Health Section

Families USA
1334 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 737-6340
Fax: (202) 347-2417

Gray Panthers
2025 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 821
Washington, DC 20006
Phone (202) 466-3132
Fax (202) 466-3133

Medicare Rights Center 1460 Broadway
11th Floor New York
NY 10036
212-869-3850, ext. 19 (phone)
212-869-3532 (fax)

National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCoA)
2713 Ontario Road NW
Washington, DC 20009
Phone (202) 745-2521
Fax (202) 745-2522

National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA)
10501 Montgomery Boulevard NE, Suite 210
Albuquerque, NM 87111
Phone: (505( 292-2001
Fax (505) 292-1922

National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC)
1815 H Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20006
Phone (202) 887-5280
Fax (202) 785-6792

United Seniors Health Cooperative (USHC)
1331 H Street
Washington, DC 20005
Phone (202) 393-6222
Fax (202) 783-0588

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Aging In Place: Staying At Home As You Age is a directory of Senior information and Senior resources for in-home care, healthcare, senior housing, Social Security, Medicare, Veterans benefits, elderlaw, nutrition, fitness, travel, finance, medical symptoms, consumer protection, senior  care, caregiving and more.