What’s it mean to have affordable housing? What do people mean when they talk about aging in place? What will it take to have those two things; affordable housing and homes built for seniors in safe neighborhoods with access to grocery stores and doctors and places of worship? That’s a lot of questions and right now society doesn’t have a lot of answers. Assisted living facilities and independent living facilities try to answer some of those questions. However, about 70 percent of the senior population doesn’t want to move and there’s plenty of research indicating most people won’t leave on their own after age 65. As the nation ages, those questions are going to take on some real importance. But if you’re already a senior and you’re on limited income (that puts you in the majority), you already know-if you pay too much for housing or maintenance, you can’t afford food or medicine, if you can’t pay for those items then you probably can’t afford to remodel the house to accommodate mobility equipment or other age-related disabilities. If your house isn’t safe now, when you have that first major trip to the hospital and someone is trying to decide if you should go to a nursing home or your own home for therapy, the choice isn’t going to fall on your home.
Affordable housing for seniors means housing or maintenance on your hopefully already paid off house at no more than 30 percent of your household income. If you’re renting, the same rules apply. You shouldn’t be paying more than 30 percent of your household income for rent.
If you can’t safely use the bathroom because the doorway isn’t wide enough for your wheelchair, scooter or walker, your house isn’t safe. If you can’t leave your home because the banister won’t support your weight or because you don’t have a ramp or because your eyesight isn’t what it used to be and it’s difficult to see where you’re placing your feet, your home isn’t safe. And if your home isn’t safe, you can’t age in place.
Aging in place is just what it sounds like. You stay in your home. You continue to live where your friends are, where you know the grocery clerk and the bank teller. If you live in a neighborhood that doesn’t require you to get in a car to access doctors, stores, friends, and your favorite place to eat and you feel comfortable walking down the street and your home is safe, you might be able to age in place. But to do that you need a plan. And to have a plan you need to know where you are right now and where you need to be when you finish.
One way to get to that point is to hire someone to do a home safety evaluation. A home health agency can generally provide a professional for a fee to assist clients with an evaluation. If you need help finding a qualified home health agency, contact Aging Options.