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As you age, it can become harder and harder to remain in your home. This being said, many seniors aspire to live at home for as long as possible. This is known as aging in place.1  While you may not be able to remain at home forever, there are things you can do to make it easier to age in place. Aging in place can be beneficial to seniors for a range of reasons. Aging in place can allow a senior to remain in the home in which they feel most comfortable. The senior can continue to live in their own community, where their friends and social lives exist.

Approximately 75% of people who are age 85 and older have some level of permanent limitation that makes it harder for them to perform activities of daily life, including eating, toileting, or dressing.2 The good news here is that there are things you can do to address your limitations and make it easier to perform these daily activities in your home, thereby allowing you to age in place for as long as possible.

Plan Ahead

Elders who wish to age in place should work with their families to create a plan for how that elder can safely remain at home. This includes planning ahead for how you will meet your financial needs and pay for any care that you need. Persons who age in place should anticipate having to spend money on home maintenance, such as housecleaning, and on personal and medical care.

You can set up a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and an Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD) to help manage your healthcare and assets as you age. A DPOA is a written document that gives another person the authority to act on your behalf. A DPOA can give that person the legal authority to manage many financial tasks and manage your property if you become unable to handle those tasks yourself. An AHCD is a simple, straightforward document that is used to record your express healthcare wishes. In the event that you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate, the AHCD designates a trusted friend or loved one to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. This designated person will be able to make decisions with regards to your healthcare.

These documents are important to have as you age because they can reduce conflict among family members and minimize stress for you and your loved ones. A DPOA can ensure that your assets, property, and affairs are well managed as you age. If you are age 60 or older and live in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Senior Legal Services can help you set up an AHCD or DPOA for free. Call us at (925) 609-7900 to learn more.

Make Home Modifications

One way to improve your ability to age in place is to make basic home modifications. These can include one-time modifications like installing grab bars in the shower or installing a ramp to help you climb stairs. These kinds of modifications can help a senior remain safely at home by reducing the senior’s risk of falling and can help the senior move around the home. Modifications can also be used for help doing things like getting in and out of bed and using the toilet. Meals on Wheels Diablo Region offers free Home Safety Modifications to seniors who are age 60 and older. Participating seniors will receive an in-home assessment and help determining what adaptations are needed in the home. Adaptations can include bathroom grab bars, toilet frames, bed bars, stair hand railings, and smoke alarms. Click here to learn more and request one of these assessments.

Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Falling

Preventing falls becomes imperative as you age because aging increases your risk of falling and of serious injury from falls. You can have someone come to your home and do a fall prevention assessment. This will help you identify places in your home where you might be at risk of falling.  Meals on Wheels offers individualized screenings for fall risk. The program teaches participants how to reduce risk of falling. Meals on Wheels also offers exercise courses designed to improve balance, strength, mobility and flexibility. These courses can also reduce an elder’s risk of falling. Click here to learn more and request a fall prevention assessment.

Explore Options for In-Home Care

As you get older, you may need additional care. One option is to have someone come to your home to care for you. Options for care at home include having an in-home family caregiver or In Home Supportive Services (IHSS). The IHSS Program will help pay for a range of services so that you can remain in your home. This program is open to persons age 65 or older, or those who are disabled or blind. Services can include housecleaning, personal care services, paramedical services, and grocery shopping. Click here to learn more about IHSS.

1 “Successful Aging in Place Doesn’t ‘Just Happen’” Successful Aging in Place Doesn’t ‘Just Happen’ | Next Avenue.

2 “Successful Aging in Place Doesn’t ‘Just Happen’” Successful Aging in Place Doesn’t ‘Just Happen’ | Next Avenue.