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What is “aging in place?”

The number of adults 65 and older in the United States is the highest it’s ever been. And it’s expected to increase to 55 million by the year 2020. When surveyed, about 87 percent of adults age 65 and older want to stay in their current home as long as possible, known as aging in place. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aging in place is “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

The desire for seniors to stay at home as long as possible is understandable. Aging in place has many benefits, but needs proper preparation and consideration. It’s important for seniors who are considering these issues to consult with their medical team to be sure that remaining at home is the best option. Here are some recommendations that can help keep seniors comfortable in their home.

Having help

A senior may be able to stay in the home but need help with certain responsibilities. The Area Agency on Aging assists Allegheny County residents age 60 and older to live safe, healthy, and, when possible, independent lives. Potential services offered include:

  • Bill payer program
  • Transportation services
  • Care management
  • Carrier alert (mail notification)
  • Food assistance
  • Life program (adult daycare)
  • Senior companion program
  • Support for caregivers
  • And more

Senior home safety

Some homes need minor modifications to be safe. In most cases this is easy, inexpensive, and provides peace of mind for caregivers. Modifications include:

  • Additional or enhanced lighting (motion detected)
  • Removing trip and fall hazards (area rugs or stray furniture)
  • Relocating items from higher shelving to countertops
  • Install handrails and grab bars
  • Installing shower chairs and mats that are slip resistant
  • Adding telephones in every room for emergency access
  • Installing surveillance equipment — home cameras with two-way chat
  • Keeping up with the outdoors — trimming hedges, cleaning walkways, etc.
  • Installing a home security system

Use available technology

Technology is constantly changing, and to our benefit when it comes to aging in place. Many companies are recognizing the challenges seniors wanting to remain in the home are facing and responding with options to meet a wide variety of unique needs. Some include:

  • Smart technology to monitor health conditions (blood pressure, weight, glucose, etc.)
  • Trackers that monitor movement and sleep patterns
  • Electronic pill dispensers
  • Home surveillance
  • Movement sensors
  • Emergency response systems

No two situations are the same and each caregiver has to weigh the pros and cons of aging in place. If you are a caregiver, knowing how you can support a senior’s desire to remain at home can extend their quality of life and provide a sense of independence. For more information, visit your local Area Agency on Aging or the Pennsylvania State of Aging (listed below).



National Age in Place Council:

National Institute on Aging:

Pennsylvania Department on Aging:

State of Aging:

UPMC Aging Institute:

Wiles, J. & (2010). The Meaning of “Ageing in Place” to Older People. The Gerontologist.