The U.S. has an aging population. There are more seniors than ever before, and the average person can expect to live a decade longer than in 1960. Advances in medicine keep us healthier for longer, while advances in assistive technology allow us to live independent lives even when our health and mobility decline. Consequently, many older Americans choose to grow old in their own home instead of moving to an assisted living facility or care home. They prefer aging in place.
A 2018 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) revealed that more than three-quarters of seniors want to age in place, which the CDC defines as the “ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Eldercare experts agree that, where possible, aging in place is the preferred option.
In this article, we look at some of the reasons you might want to age at home and the technology available to help you maintain an independent life in your own home.
Why Is Aging in Place Important?
It’s easy to understand why older people prefer to stay in a home with which they are familiar. In addition, there are many financial, psychological, and health benefits to aging in place rather than moving to a care facility.
Independence: few of us want to give up our autonomy, our ability to live where we want, see who we wish to, organize our schedule, and spend our time in a familiar and comforting environment. Complete independence may not be possible as we get older and our health declines. Still, with help from aging in place technology, families, and professional caregivers, it is often possible to stay independent for longer.
Community: When asked, many seniors say that their community motivates their desire to age in place. They value the social network of friends and neighbors and the social capital they have built over many years. In addition, maintaining an active social life has been shown to reduce cognitive and psychological decline.
Psychological and cognitive benefits: Aging in place helps seniors maintain their cognitive abilities for longer. People who age in place exhibit decreased depression and anxiety and a better overall ability to carry out daily tasks than those who move to a nursing home.
Financial benefits: Care facilities are costly. As we live longer, the total cost of long-term residence in a care facility or assisted living facility may far exceed the cost of aging in place, even when the cost of caregivers and home modifications is accounted for.
How To Age In Place at Home
Aging in place is desirable where possible, and modern assistive devices make independent living easier for seniors than it once was. We’d like to conclude with a look at some of the aging-in-place technology available to help seniors maintain their independence.
Home Hospital Beds
Home hospital beds allow seniors to get into and out of bed more easily and support various in-home treatment options. A modern adjustable bed such as Transfer Master’s Supernal 5 features motorized hi-low height adjustments, adjustable head and foot areas, and tilt adjustments—all controlled via a wired or wireless remote. They are available in various sizes from Twin to Dual King and are designed to blend with home decor. Bariatric home hospital beds accommodate weights up to 750 lbs.
Stairs are one of the biggest challenges to aging in place, but a stairlift provides a safe and easy-to-operate alternative to climbing the stairs. A stairlift is a motorized chair or platform that travels up and downstairs along a rail. They can accommodate straight and curved stairways and can be fitted to most properties without significant remodeling.
Vertical Platform Lifts
Vertical platform lifts, also known as wheelchair lifts, are an alternative to stairlifts for people who cannot walk or keep themselves upright. Platform lifts can accommodate a wheelchair, and they typically move vertically between floors rather than following the stairway.
Wearables and Emergency Response Systems
Modern wearables such as smartwatches and activity trackers allow a senior’s condition to be monitored while giving them maximum independence. For example, the Apple Watch includes fall detection, which can alert emergency services if you fall and can’t get up. More traditional emergency response systems, including medic alert systems, feature a portable help button that can be used to alert relatives or emergency services when help is required.
We’ve looked at just four of the many ways technology can help seniors age in place safely. If you’d like to learn more about home hospital beds and mattresses for the elderly, contact an adjustable bed expert today.