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There’s No Place Like Home:
Tools Needed for Aging in Place

Written by Heidi Nestor, Writer and Editor, Life Alert

It’s a man’s castle; it’s where you hang your hat; and Dorothy knew there was no place like it.
What is it?  Home!

Recently I read an article about choices in senior housing.  The well intentioned piece outlined the many options and estimated monthly cost that seniors have today with their housing needs.

The array of suggestions included:

  • Adult Retirement Communities - where individuals of the same ages live in the same general area. This, the author noted, is an alternative to single-family ownership.  In other words, it means selling your home, moving into an apartment and possibly paying additional community fees along with rent.
  • Senior Housing - is another option listed for those who want to live on their own. Again, this kind of housing generally indicates moving from one’s home into an apartment.
  • Assisted Living - was suggested for those who still want to live alone and independently but periodically need help. This is different than a nursing home where a person needs assistance with everyday activities such as dressing, food preparation, and medicine intake.  Assisted Living also requires moving from one’s home into an apartment.
  • Moving in with children - depending on one’s perspective, it may be nice being around family but this also requires - you guessed it - moving out from one’s home.

Though these options may be good depending on one’s needs, most of them require monthly expenses, such as rent, utilities, community and/or service dues, which can become a costly burden. And with the current housing market not being what it use to be, selling a home today to go into a retirement community can leave you financially worse off than if you had just stayed in your own home. 

An alternative, which was overlooked in the article, is the Aging in Place option. Aging in Place is defined by “older adults living independently in their current residence or community for as long as possible.”1 This preference seems to be the best choice since “89 percent of those aged 50 years and over surveyed in 2005 stated that they would prefer to remain in their home indefinitely as they age”.2 

So, if a majority of seniors rather stay in their own homes, and current economics indicates it may be more cost effective to do so…then why move at all?  The good news is you or your elderly loved one may not have to.  Barring inhabiting health issues, anyone over 60 can continue to live in their own homes for as long as they choose just by making some minor adjustments to their house, such as:

  • Installing safety rails throughout the home and bathrooms. Bathrooms and any area that is in contact with water can be slippery places and quite dangerous regardless of one’s age. Having rails by sinks, toilets, and in the shower may help prevent a fall that can cause serious damage.
  • Improving accessibility and eliminating any potentially harmful walkways. Hire a handyman to nail down loose floorboards and stairs.  Staple down carpet corners that are coming up. 
  • Install a stair lift to make it easier and safer to go up and down stairs.  Though a stair lift may seem expensive at first, it actually cost about the same price as one month’s rent in a retirement community.
  • In lieu of a stair lift, modify a downstairs bedroom.  Instead of investing money in the cost of a retirement community put that money back into your home by adding on a downstairs bedroom.  This eliminates potential danger of walking up and down stairs. Plus, it will add value to your home if you decide to sell it.
  • Get Life Alert Emergency Response.  Life Alert allows you to live alone without ever being alone.  As a member, help is only one push of a button away, even when you can’t reach a phone.  Life Alert allows you to maintain your independence by living in your home longer.


By modifying your current home with a few, simple, enhancements you may be able to keep your home and preserve the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to achieve.  And living independently in your own home is key to a long and happy life because, as we all know; the home is where the heart is.

Emily Salomon, Housing Policy Solutions to Support Aging in Place. AARP Public Policy Institute. P.1

Salomon, p.1

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