Builders, manufacturers and service providers are catering to the growing number of seniors who want to age in place in their own homes.
Aging in place — the preferred lifestyle for older adults — requires tools and support that allow seniors to live in their own homes safely and independently. According to a recent national survey, 85 percent of retirees would prefer to receive extended care in their own homes, if they ever need it.
Many retirees have a lot of emotional value in their home. They love their communities, have family and friends who live nearby, and don’t want to lose their independence. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day and a shortage of affordable long-term care facilities and trained caregivers, aging in place is an important and emerging trend. Builders, manufacturers, and service providers are adapting to this growing need for tools that allow seniors to safely and affordably remain in their homes as long as possible.
Products and services to facilitate aging in place are continually emerging. Here are five to consider:
Aging-in-place home design: Many builders, architects and designers today are embracing the concept of universal design — producing buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people with and without disabilities — by combining the latest technology and modifications. Universal design also is related to “visitability,” or having a home where friends or family members who rely on wheelchairs or walkers could comfortably visit or live there. Putting these principles into practice, we built a home in 2013 that serves as a state-of-the-art demonstration center by incorporating a wide range of these aging-in-place elements. Read more about these innovations.
Meal-delivery services: Hunger and malnutrition are very real problems for America’s seniors. A study commissioned by the Meals On Wheels Association of America Foundation discovered 5 million American seniors are at risk of malnutrition, 2.5 million are at risk of hunger and about 750,000 experience hunger. There are a variety of federal and state programs to help seniors get proper nutrition. For those who don’t qualify for government assistance, there are services like Mom’s Meals, which delivers nutritionally balanced, freshly prepared meals to customers’ homes. Designed to meet the needs of an aging population, each meal contains fresh foods, is microwaveable and will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks. Mom’s Meals offers 45 unique meal choices, including specialty choices like low-sodium, low-fat, gluten-free and more.
Mobility and independence tools: In response to a growing number of baby boomers who want to remain in their own homes, manufacturers like Stander make independence tools to make every room safer. Nowadays consumers can easily and affordably equip their homes with security poles, grab bars, 2-in-1 trays and mobility handles, bed rails, walkers and rollators, raised toilet seats, bath benches and more.
We’ve all seen the TV ads for the “Help, I’ve fallen” devices where you pay $40 per month for monitoring, which is a good thing. Now Philips, the “Lifeline” people, have smartphone apps to allow a person to call for help. With the Apple Watch and its ‘Health’ app, watch for an explosion in safety monitoring and reporting. There is so much more that can be done, but the PERS (personal emergency response system) companies are slow to adapt.
Senior-focused technology: From amplified phones and wearable monitoring devices, to medication reminders and remote health services, living independently as a senior has never been easier. For the elderly who prefer the security of monitoring at home, companies like Philips Lifeline make personal emergency response systems. Lifeline includes a wearable, waterproof pendant for access to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Resources and support: Aging-in-place help doesn’t always come at a cost. Caregivers and seniors today enjoy free access to thousands of resources and online support. Explore our site for a resource library, a free fall prevention guide and much more. There is a federally-mandated Area Agency on Aging in your city or county. This agency is staffed by professionals who know every elder program and service (including available funding sources) in your area. The Area Agency on Aging can advise you regarding programs and qualifications and even help prepare the necessary applications and documentation for assistance programs such as Medicaid, respite care and certain veterans' programs. A quick search of the web or a phone book will help you locate the agency serving your area.
(This article originally appeared on the CareGiver Partnership blog.)
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.