What options are pushing standard seniors housing to change? The market today includes many — active adult housing, assisted living, independent living, group homes, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), nursing homes and various combinations.
What do all these options have in common? All require you to move out of your home. Most include services or assistance with the living quarters. The key distinguishing features among them are the amount and level of assistance provided.
Finally, moves to active adult housing and CCRCs are planned, whereas moves to the other facilities are usually forced by circumstances. The "Guide to Retirement Living" provides interested readers good descriptions of each option.
On the Other Side of the Aisle: Aging In Place
Like many “new” candidates, this choice is heavily polled. In 2000, AARP issued “Fixing to Stay: A National Survey on Housing and Home Modification Issues.”
Eighty-nine percent want to remain in their homes!
The AARP survey found that 89% of “respondents ages 55 and over … strongly or somewhat agree that they would like to remain in their current residence for as long as possible.” Aging in place is what most people want.
Aging In Place is more economical and efficient!
Aging In Place is more economical and efficient than standard seniors housing because it uses existing housing and relies upon informal resources. Aging In Place allows the people (the voting/buying public) to retain greater control over their lives.
On the downside, I must concede that Aging In Place is not as well-funded or as easy to organize as standard seniors housing. What’s more, Aging In Place requires advance planning to work.
Aging In Place stands for independence and safety!
In stumping for Aging In Place, however, I must speak about preparing for aging in place — about no-step entries and bathroom designs that enhance independence and safety. Healthy, active people nod in understanding when I describe wellness and fall prevention programs. They agree intuitively that it makes sense to maintain control by planning.
But do they vote? Do they spend time and money now so they can keep control later, even when accidents or illnesses conspire to force “the move?” How many of you have taken these steps? You know the answer.
The bottom line is how can I draw attention to the differences? What will get people to the “polls?" What will overcome the inertia of “wait and see” and show people the wisdom of planning?
Aging In Place — because bad things can happen!
Some discussion in every election cycle focuses on the benefits and repercussions of “going negative.” Everyone wants candidates to take the high road, but differentiating themselves is difficult. Going negative turns some voters off, but if the message warrants the risk this tactic may be worth it.
At the risk of turning some voters off, I am going to go “negative” using an arsenal of statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- More than one-third of all adults ages 65 and older fall each year.
- Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries.
- Fall-related injuries result in hospitalization five times more often than any other type of injury.
- Of all fall-related fractures, hip fractures lead to the most severe health problems and reduced quality of life and cause the most deaths.
- Up to 25% of community-dwelling older adults who sustain hip fractures remain institutionalized for at least a year.
- In 2001, more than 11,600 people ages 65 and older died from fall-related injuries.
Most think accidents and illness will never happen and are content to do nothing. “I’ll wait until I need it,” they say. But that strategy — denial — will not work.
Getting into shape is something you must do before an accident or illness. Planning and completing home renovations while you or a loved one is hospitalized is nearly impossible to do. Designing the project, getting an estimate, obtaining permits and scheduling the job require more time than the typical hospital stay.
Planning ahead is the only way to assure your future. Vote for “the future you want” by planning for your aging in place today.
Vote for Aging In Place!
I'm Louis Tenenbaum, and I approve this column.
(In my debate, there will be no 90-second rebuttal.)
Louis Tenenbaum is a Potomac, MD-based Independent Living Strategist, consultant, trainer and speaker who specializes in aging-in-place and universal design. He also is a member of the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. Tenenbaum can be reached at 301-983-0131 or via e-mail. Information also is available on his Web site at www.louistenenbaum.com.
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