You might be wondering, what is Aging in Place? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defined aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level” The United States of Aging Survey, formed by the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare, and USA TODAY surveyed 2,250 United States citizens ages 60 years and older. The survey determined that 9 out of 10 senior citizens are planning to continue to live at their home as they age over the next five to 10 years. With new resources and technology, individuals can continue to age in place, which will enhance their quality of life due to continued independence.
Challenges such as health status, economic hardships, poor housing quality, lack of support and caregiving services can make it difficult for an individual to age in place. Additionally, individuals who live in rural communities have a greater challenge to receive services for their needs. However, modifying the environment can allow for increased independence in the home and decrease the need to have a caretaker help an individual complete tasks such as meal preparation, bathing or showering, and laundry.
Most homes will, at some time, require home renovations. According to the NAHB, two-thirds of homes in the United States were built before 1980, and newly built homes after 2010 only makes up 2% of the U.S. housing stock. The age of the housing stock is the number of homes that are aging in the housing market and will eventually need to be remodeled. These homes may require remodeling and renovations before placement in the housing market. The homes need to be renovated to ensure it is safe to live in for an individual planning to continue to live in their home or considering purchasing a home. However, renovations may not necessarily fit each individual’s needs. It is important to understanding the variety of products offered before renovating a home to determine if the product will be best fit for current or future use.
Aging in Place and Universal Design products focus on providing design components for the individual to remain independent within their home. Products such as having a zero-step entrance, accessible doors for mobile device access, grab bars, and roll-in showers are all features of a universal designed home. A zero-step entrance can benefit individuals who might use a walker or wheelchair. Having at least one accessible entrance that does not have a barrier can allow for the person to enter and exit the home without requiring assistance from others. Roll-in showers can benefit individuals without the barrier of having to step over a ledge to enter. As an individual ages, balance can become challenging. Roll-in showers with added grab bars can support the individual to be safe in the bathroom without an increased risk for falls. These are just a few of the small changes made that will further allow for independence and safety to occur.
Further information is provided about Aging in Place on our website or give us a call at 701-222-0783 to speak with someone about your home! Stay tuned for more information on other Aging in Place and Accessibility articles that will be published soon!
About the Author
Jackie Baumgartner is currently a third-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. She is currently completing her doctoral capstone at Sparling Construction/GoUniversal. Jackie will be graduating in the spring of 2021 and plans to begin her career as a traveling therapist with her husband. She is very excited to provide you with information regarding different topics about home modifications, disabilities, and ways to make your home more accessible.
Dye, C., Willoughby, D., & Battisto, D. (2011). Advice from rural elders: What it takes to age in place. Educational Gerontology, 37(1), 74–93. doi: 10.1080/03601277.2010.515889
National Association of Home Builders. (2017). Marketing and communicating with the aging in place client (CAPS I). Washington, D.C.: NAHB.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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United States of Aging Survey. (2012). United States of aging survey national findings.
Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/8-3-12-US-of-Aging-Survey-