We know aging in place is the preferred living situation for older adults – over 80% of adults say they plan to live out their lives in their own homes. While aging in place has many benefits, it would be an understatement to say it has been hard this last year. Quarantine fatigue and social isolation directly affect mental health and quality of life, especially for those living alone. Older adults have experienced decreased access to healthcare services making it difficult to make doctor’s appointments and get the care needed to stay healthy and well. However, reimbursement changes and use of telehealth has grown substantially. This is a silver-lining trend that will continue after the pandemic and it reinforces staying in the home. Non-driving adults have also experienced decreased access to transportation during this time making it even harder to participate in needed and wanted activities such as shopping and leisure activities. This can lead to a sense of loss of independence and a greater reliance on friends and families. Needless to say, living through a pandemic has been tough on America’s older adults.
These changes coupled with the continuous aging process and the increased time spent at home have caused us to take a closer look at our home environment – are our homes safe? Are we able to safely access the spaces in which we perform our daily activities? If not, what do we need in order to be able to navigate our homes safely? If it is safe, will it still be safe for us in five years? Ten? Evidence shows that updated homes avoid injury, reduce falls and soften the burden on family or paid caregivers – studies show updated homes can cut caregiver needs in half! Now may be the time to look into home modifications to increase safety while performing your valued daily activities.
Our HomesRenewed Coalition advocates on a federal level for home modification services to be more accessible and affordable. However, policy change can be a slow process. In the meantime, there are many local and state programs, funding sources and other resources to support aging in place that can be found using a quick Google search or through this USC School of Gerontology database.