In a recent column, we addressed the first part of a reader’s question about assessing one’s home environment to age in place. This week, we’ll feature the second part of the question about other considerations.  

We know most people want to age in their own home. Sometimes that’s a conscious decision or a result of making no decision. Stephen M. Golant, University of Florida professor of gerontology calls it “residential inertia.” 

The dynamics of such decisions vary. Some may deny or ignore the “what ifs” of life and move only when their situation requires it. Yet others plan to stay in their home and plan for home-care services while others age in place because they are near family. Others move proactively and plan to relocate before it is necessary and age in place in the meantime. So aging in place is not an all-or-nothing decision. 

Here are some considerations in making age-in-place decisions

A network of family and friends: We know that one in four adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated which affects overall health and well-being. This isolation has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline as well as increased risk of dementia and premature death. The U.S. Surgeon General announced that isolation and loneliness are a national epidemic. Given its importance, ask yourself, “Have I identified important people in my life with whom I connect on a regular basis?” For social connection and more, consider becoming part of a Village, a grassroots membership-based organization that creates a sense of community and connection for older adults, with opportunities to age in place

Modifications in the home: It’s difficult to predict the ways each one of us will age and the potential obstacles and inconveniences that may exist in our homes. To take a proactive approach, ask yourself, “Are there parts of my home that would need to be modified to allow me to live comfortably and safely? And are those modifications affordable?” The most common aging-in-place home updates include grab-bars, curbless showers and raised toilets, according to the National Homebuilders Association. According to an April 17, 2024 Forbes Health story, here are some average “ballpark costs” that can vary according to design, materials and features: Walk-in showers $1,500 to $3,500; walk-in tubs $10,000; raised toilet seats $27 to $85; shower chairs $50 to $300; and stair lifts ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. Renting a stair lift usually costs between $259 and $500 per month. 

Then there is driving: If the time comes when you can no longer drive, have you considered transportation alternatives? Here are some options that may exist in your community: Community Dial-A-Ride for those with disabilities; Taxicab Services Program (TSP) taxicab services for those who meet eligibility requirements with a maximum of four one-way trips a month, 40 miles each at no charge; and the Door Assistance Transportation Program (DATP) for those age 60 and older who are frail or disabled. Then there are family, friends and participating in a Village in your area which offers transportation opportunities.

In-home care: The looming question is “Who will be there for me when I need them and then can I afford that care?” There are many types of in-home care including companion care, personal health care, skilled nursing care and hospice care to name a few. In California, the average cost for home is $35 per hour with other estimates ranging $17 to $32 per hour. Genworth, a financial services company, estimates the monthly cost of in-home care is between $4,000 and $5,000, that is without long-term care insurance. Another complexity is the shortage of home health workers partially attributed to our rapidly aging population. 

Most of us feel that there’s no place like home and treasure the independence and sense of control. Given that, some expanded thinking may help each of us be well prepared for our latter years – so they can be the best possible. 

Stay well everyone and spread those acts of kindness.

Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging and the new retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at Helendenn@gmail.com. Visit Helen at HelenMdennis.com and follow her on facebook.com/SuccessfulAgingCommunity