Everything Seniors Should Know About Aging in Community

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by Hazel Bridges

  

Today, most people want to spend their senior years in their own homes. However, remaining at home can come with many financial, physical, and mental struggles. Aging in community is an alternative to aging in place or receiving long-term care in a facility, relying instead on the support of social networks and neighborhood groups. This approach helps make it possible for seniors to maintain a high quality of life while aging in place. Here’s what you need to know about this community-oriented concept.

Getting Around

Unfortunately, it can become unsafe to drive as we grow older. Whether you need to attend doctor’s appointments or travel to and from social events, there are several ways you can find transportation assistance when driving is no longer an option. Keep in mind that Original Medicare will cover your transportation during emergencies and near-emergencies, but will not cover rides to the doctor. On the other hand, Medicare Advantage plans often partner with ride-sharing services to provide their members with transportation to doctor appointments. Consider switching to a Medicare Advantage plan if you require reliable transportation assistance. As an added bonus, Advantage plans also provide additional benefits, including care for hearing, vision, and dental and prescription drug coverage. 

Affordable Housing Options

Seniors who want to remain in the community have a few options for affordable housing. If living alone in your own home is not realistic, consider sharing your house with other seniors. By renting out rooms in your home to senior roommates, you can enjoy some extra income and avoid the dangerous health effects of social isolation. Plus, having another person at home means there will always be someone around to help if you need it.

You may also want to consider moving in with your adult kids if they have enough space. In this situation, the benefits flow both ways. You can provide extra help around the house, such as babysitting or cleaning, in exchange for an affordable place to live. Also, your kids will always be around to provide social interaction and care whenever you need it.

Home Modifications

Aging in community often means making modifications to the living environment so that seniors can maintain their independence as much as possible. Some daily tasks of living, such as bathing or cooking, can become more challenging as we grow older. Fortunately, home modifications can help you accomplish these things more easily.

According to Consumer Affairs, some of the most popular home accessibility modifications include installing grab bars, adding outdoor ramps, replacing faucets and door knobs with levers, upgrading the lighting, and adding non-slip flooring. Regardless of whether you’re living alone, you may also want to consider implementing some smart home gadgets so you can exercise greater control over your home. Some devices, like health monitors and fall detectors, can keep your family or community members up to date on your well-being.

Of course, paying for home modifications can be difficult, especially if you don’t have any money set aside for this type of project. This is why many seniors decide to seek financing. One option that homeowners have is something called cash out refinancing, which PennyMac explains is a new, higher mortgage that replaces your old one. The difference between the two loans is then “cashed out,” and the difference between them can be used to finance any home repairs or modifications you’ll need to age in place comfortably.

The Village Model

The Village model is another option for seniors who want to remain in their community and age in place. According to the AARP, Villages are non-profit organizations created by residents of a community to coordinate and provide services to members. Seniors can join villages to receive support and care from other residents instead of being dependent on friends, family members, or expensive in-home care. The services provided to village members include home health care, transportation, and help with household tasks. Seniors can also enjoy access to socialization and entertainment opportunities.

Aging in community is all about delaying the need for institutional care. For many seniors, living in a community where they feel supported and cared for plays a vital role in their quality of life. Aging in community promotes social engagement and gives seniors a greater sense of fulfillment in their daily lives that can be difficult to get from an institutional setting.

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