The aging in place revolution is no longer a future concept but standard practice for older adults.
Staying in the home of their choice, whether it is their lifelong adult home or a smaller version in an age-friendly community or a walkable city, is where seniors want to live.
Some seniors may opt to move just to be closer to family caregivers.
Others may want to downsize to reduce the amount of home maintenance required.
Many seniors may decide modifying their lifelong adult home to become one that can accommodate their changing needs for mobility and ease of care through home renovation and remodeling is their ticket to aging in place.
Wherever your senior loved one desires to “age in place,” there are many things that should be considered for not only their future needs but their safety as well.
Whitehouse Advisors’ Recommendations To Meet Future Needs
The Whitehouse has technology advisers, President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), who are busy seeking out technology solutions for aging adults so they can remain at home safely as long as possible.
This is a concern because, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014 an unprecedented 15% of the total U.S. population was over the age of 65 – more than 46 million Americans.
They reviewed technologies that are currently available or will be in the near future. They wanted to be sure our seniors’ social connectivity, emotional health, cognitive ability, and physical ability needs were met.
Here are some key areas for solutions and recommendations they are currently looking favorably upon to help our senior loved ones age in place:
- Ensure older adults have broadband Internet access at home so they can be engaged, stay mentally active, and access telehealth services in addition to regular connection to caregivers; support training programs that are accessible to seniors
- FEMA should establish communication for emergency information to isolated and vulnerable seniors
- Collaboration between multiple agencies to develop a roadmap to improve wheelchair functional capabilities
- Protecting seniors from financial fraud for products without proven benefits, bank scams and give caregivers access to financial oversight
Barriers to Achieving Technology Adoption
PCAST’s recommendations encompass wearable sensors, prosthetics, cognitive training apps, and policy changes to make mobility solutions like electric wheelchairs more accessible to seniors. Some may require financial assistance to purchase technology that could benefit them.
Caregivers were also a consideration in the PCAST report. They realize the importance of family caregivers and the need to give them technology solutions that work to help them keep on providing hands on care as it is needed.
They feel that awareness, accessibility and training are barriers to using technology for caregivers and seniors.
These are areas they feel need improvement and support for continued innovation:
- Monitoring technology that is secure but easy for seniors to use
- Teach seniors to use the technology
- Robotic technology – more affordable and accessible
- Communication in emergencies
- Fraud prevention technology
- Interoperability of medical information
- Consistent interface of medical devices
- Cognitive training products should be regulated and enforced to provide proven benefits
- Innovation in telehealth to allow healthcare professionals to practice interstate and support payment policies that encourage telehealth
- Senior friendly packaging for technology
- Higher functioning wheelchairs that can be purchased under Medicare
What Might Be Needed to Age In Place?
Seniors who wish to stay in their home as long as possible may need more assistance to manage day to day activities. This could be personal care, financial management, medication management, accessibility, technology or all of the above.
These are some ideas to consider in order to decide what technology or renovations might be needed to help make things easier for your senior and caregivers who are aging in place or considering it:
- Do they need help cooking and shopping for food?
- Do they need help keeping the house clean?
- Do they need help with laundry?
- Do they need help with personal care such as bathing?
- Do they need help with your medications and can they manage them safely?
- Do they need transportation to get to doctors, pharmacy, or other errands?
- Are their surroundings safe?
- Can they afford to stay in their home or pay for remodeling?
- Do they have a medical condition that would limit staying at home?
- Do they have family or community support to help when it is needed?
- Do they have access to the internet for communication, telehealth and social interaction?
- Are they will to learn to use technology?
- Do they need remodeling such as more lighting, wider doorways and accessible bathrooms?
- Can they manage their money or are they highly vulnerable to scams?
- Are they near family and friends?
- Is their city walkable or resources for transportation available when they can no longer drive?
- Is their home senior-friendly? Download a Home Seniorization Checklist to help you manage their home safety
There are many options, resources and services available to family caregivers to help improve your senior loved ones home to age in place successfully.
Every situation is different and requires different solutions but planning ahead will make these questions easier to answer and solutions easier to initiate for their well-being.