Aging in place means having a choice about the way we live and how we are cared for as we get older.
By making modifications to existing homes to accommodate our changing needs, we can remain safe, comfortable, and independent regardless of age, income, and ability.
Most homes were not designed with aging in mind. Today, aging-in-place specialists, a designation given by the National Association of Home Builders, are helping fill the need for homeowners through professional residential construction and remodeling so residents around the state can remain in their homes for as long as they choose.
Residential remodels provide peace of mind for those who are experiencing changes associated with aging over time, and can serve immediate needs in the case of a fall or sudden illness. By investing in changes in their home, homeowners can maintain their independence and in many cases save money by avoiding the high cost of assisted living facilities. (Remodels can improve a home’s value, too.)
Aging-in-Place home remodeling: More than just safety bars.
Safety bars and accommodations such as ramps and lifts are important features for seniors and homeowners of differing abilities. Preparing a home for aging in place incorporates these features and many more that improve living, now and in the future.
Aging-in-place modifications can mean major changes such as moving a second-floor bedroom to the ground floor, or a new addition for in-laws, caregivers, or for supplemental rental income after retirement. It can also include small but valuable changes such as lighting improvements for those with vision loss, or room design features that can help prevent falls.
Maine communities help make aging in place possible.
Maine has one of the oldest populations in the country, and Maine communities have responded to the needs of their senior residents and their caregivers. Residents have shown a preference for aging in place and maintaining connections to their community while they remain at home – a nationwide trend driven by finances and personal preference. State, private, and volunteer efforts on the part of Maine’s cities and towns provide services and resources to seniors to help support this trend and make aging in place possible.
Aging in Place is simply a matter of preserving the ability for people to remain in their home or neighborhood as long as possible. (AARP)
Maine currently boasts 42 age-friendly communities as designated by AARP, more than any other state in the nation. Age-friendly communities provide outreach programs and resources that cater to the needs of seniors. These include access to health care, caregiver support, and maintaining safe neighborhoods. Programs may also include assistance with snow removal, meal preparation, morning check-in programs, and transportation options.
Maine’s regional agencies, both state and privately funded, also do valuable work to support aging at home, as do organizations such as The Maine Council on Aging, Spectrum Generations, and Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging. They all play a part in making the choice to stay a home as we age a viable option.
What makes a community age friendly?
- Access to health care and supportive services.
- Accessible, reliable and appropriate transportation.
- Affordable, livable housing.
- Safe communities, safe neighborhoods, safe homes.
- Caregiving supports.
- Walkable sidewalks/streets; readable signage.
- Collocation of housing with/near services.