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Everything Seniors Need To Know About Aging In Their Own Community

Everything Seniors Need To Know About Aging In Their Own Community

By: June Duncan

There are many hurdles to overcome with age, and senior isolation is one of them. It’s not uncommon for the elderly to fall into an isolated state after losing a spouse, battling health problems, or struggling to have enough money to make ends meet. Startling facts tied to being lonely include increased risk of mortality; a decline in physical and mental health; a greater risk of dementia, long-term illness, depression, and high blood pressure; and issues with transportation. Not to mention, studies have found that loneliness can be contagious. This is why many seniors are choosing to age within their own communities. There are several different avenues to consider, so here’s a closer look at the most popular options.

Aging In Place

According to several surveys, aging in place is by far the most popular option, as people have a hard time of letting go of their memories and/or are simply more comfortable staying put. Even so, you still have to consider the fact that the home you bought in your twenties may not support the health and mobility issues you have in your sixties and upward, so it’s time to make some home modifications to ensure your safety and comfort. Top tweaks include removing tripping hazards, lowering the temperature of your water heater, making everyday items easy to reach, adding traction to slippery floors in areas like the bathroom, installing an elevated toilet seat and grab bars, swapping out door knobs and traditional faucets with lever-like handle models, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that light up when activated, widened doorways (adjustable hinges will do), a wheelchair ramp, and a walk-in tub. While it’s dependent upon the area where you live, the rapidly growing “village” concept is a “neighbors-helping-neighbors” movement that makes it easier for seniors to age in place. Support includes everything from computer to support to running errands to assisting with transportation.

Intentional Communities

This is an umbrella term that includes senior cooperative housing (think mobile homes, attached properties, and condos), pocket neighborhoods that cover residences of all kinds in one specific area catered to the elderly, and niche retirement communities — though this option is not yet available in all communities due to its newness. With that in mind, you may not be able to find the perfect LGBT, singles, or specific ethnic community right around the corner.

Home Sharing

Interestingly enough, there’s a Golden Girls phenomenon sweeping the nation, which means seniors of all ages are embracing the idea of sharing homes. While having a roommate (or roommates) can make life more affordable, there’s no doubt that there are challenges that come with living with others, so make sure you establish boundaries in writing, including anything financial, legal, personal (space included), and maintenance-related so that you’re all on the same page.

Assisted Living Facilities

Even if you have the best of intentions to remain independent, moving into an assisted living facility can be a better option. Of course, when you have someone cooking your meals, cleaning your residence, taking you to the store and other activities, and assisting with medical issues, there’s going to be a price. If you think this is the path for you, make sure you can afford it. There are several online tools to help you add up all of the figures.

If you’re planning on aging within your community, the best way to do so is by staying involved in it. Consider planting flowers at a park, helping out with a local charity, volunteering at places like the library, or getting involved with your church. Your life in your community may not be the same as it was a few decades ago, but it can certainly be just as lustrous in your golden years.

June Duncan is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is also the author of The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers (coming soon).

Read June’s other fantastic articles on repisodic: