While there are plenty of people who dream of retiring to the coast for warmer, more pleasant weather, 87% of people over the age of 65 say they want to live at home for as long possible. This is called “aging in place,” and with more resources available to provide help to people in their homes, this is becoming a real possibility - especially for the 12 million adults older than 65 who live alone.

Planning early is important if you are interested in aging in place. Below are 5 of the most important steps to take as you make your plans for how and where you’d like to grow old.

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  1. Talk to your doctor. If you have any preexisting conditions you live with, ask your doctor about any symptoms that could create difficulties if you continue to live at home. Make sure to ask about how the condition could impact your ability to drive, climb stairs or complete daily activities such as cooking, cleaning or your personal hygiene.
  2. Think through ways to adapt your home. Once you’ve spoken with your doctor about any potential trouble you may have at home, start working through changes that could make it easier on you. Even small changes can help prevent falls or make it easier for you to do your daily activities. And if you do them preventively, you won’t be out of luck if an immediate need arises.  
  3. Determine who will help care for you, if needed. Is there a loved one who lives in your town or a neighbor or community volunteer who could check on you from time to time? These can be good options initially, but if a need for more frequent or serious care comes up, there are also options for care that are covered by most insurance policies:
  • Personal home care assistance provides help with non-medical care, such as transportation, getting around your home, medication reminders, scheduling appoints, light housekeeping, meal preparation, companionship and other tasks as needed. In 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid saw an increasing need for these services and approved a payment plan that goes into effect in 2019.
  • Home health care helps you stay independent at home but with skilled medical services that are coordinated with your doctor. You can receive nursing care and rehabilitation in the comfort of your home, which can help prevent  unwanted hospital visits and improve your safety. This service is covered by Medicare, veterans’ benefits and private insurance.
  • Community care is another option your doctor can order for you when you need help with non-medical personal care, but aren’t able to pay out-of-pocket or through insurance. These services are typically available for people with Medicaid, veterans’ benefits and those living on a low income.

3. Make a list of contacts who can ease your burden. Just like deciding who can care for you or check on you, it’s a good idea to reach out to loved ones and neighbors in advance to see what help they’d be able to offer if needed. Things like yard work, transportation, grocery delivery or laundry service can be a big support for your daily routine.

4. Work out transportation details. By 2025, 1 in 4 drivers will be 65 or older, and for those who are not still driving, half say they don’t leave the house each day. But staying at home all day can make anyone lonely, so it helps to be able to rely on the neighbors and loved ones discussed above, or determine car pool options and public transportation that can take you places you need to go each day.

With advanced planning, aging in place is more common than ever before. If you or a loved one is looking for support at home, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can walk you through care options in your area.  

By Blair Klayko