Aging in Place Help

How to Help an Older Adult Age in Place
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The great majority of older adults say they'd prefer to live out their days in their own home. For many, this desire is so strong that they’ll insist on staying in the face of what seems to be an impossible situation.

But even as a friend or relative begins to decline and need more support, "aging in place" can usually continue to work.

The good news is that there’s a wide and growing array of supports available to help older adults age in place safely and in comfort, from high-tech home-monitoring systems to skilled in-home caregivers. The key to successful aging in place is learning about these supports -- and how to "future-proof" her home -- before a health crisis or other emergency strikes.

Practical needs

Practical needs to consider include:

  • Transportation. Driving -- which many older adults perceive as the key to their independence -- is a touchy subject, but talking about it is crucial, as is assessing an older adult's ability to continue to drive safely. If she does lose the ability to drive, there are a number of available alternatives, from paratransit and door-to-door vans to enlisting family, friends, and church members to help out with rides on a rotating basis.
  • In-home safety. You'll want to do a top-to-bottom review of her home for comfort and potential safety hazards. Put yourself in her shoes and look for (and be prepared to install) things like bright lighting throughout the house, light switches at the top and bottom of stairs, and grab bars in the bathroom, for starters. A certified aging-in-place specialist can make suggestions and help figure out how to implement needed changes.
  • Finances. Like driving, money is a touchy subject, but it's important for aging-in-place older adults to have a clear sense of their financial resources and how long they will last, especially if their need for in-home care increases.

More ways to help an older adult age in place

Financial needs

Assuming that your friend or relative is comfortable discussing finances with you, sit down with her and go over whether she has the income to cover her needs over time, including in-home care should it become necessary. A financial planner who specializes in eldercare can help. If it looks like there's going to be a lack of funds, become familiar with financial options, from reverse mortgages to Medicaid's Cash and Counseling program, which pays for in-home care in some states, for those eligible.

  • Healthcare. Again, planning is key. If she's willing, review her healthcare coverage with her and make a list of her doctors and nearby hospitals. Make sure everyone caring for her knows what the plan is if a medical problem arises on the weekend or on a holiday. The more information you have at hand before something happens, the better prepared you'll be to help when it does.
  • Household maintenance. One of the main reasons older adults wind up moving to senior living communities is because they have trouble "keeping up with the house." But if you make a list of household tasks -- both routine and intermittent (mowing the lawn, cleaning the rain gutters, taking the trash cans to the curb) -- and figure out together which tasks  she can still handle and which she needs help with, an unwanted move can often be avoided.

The next step is figuring out who’s available -- volunteers or professionals -- to help. A neighbor may be more than happy to take out the trash cans each week, and more time-consuming maintenance tasks can be delegated to a handyman or gardener. If you live nearby and are willing help with something as minor as changing a light bulb that requires climbing a ladder, let her know -- it will bring her and you peace of mind, and will help keep her safe.

Nell Bernstein

Nell Bernstein's writings have appeared on Salon. See full bio

almost 5 years, said...

Hello, You can locate and "aging in place specialist" or senior home remodeler here: Let me know if I can assist you with additional resources. Thanks

almost 5 years, said...

I didn't know there was an "aging in place specialist". How do you find them? I'm going to need some guidance to help my dad, age 81.

almost 5 years, said...

One book I have found very helpful for caregivers who help a parent "age in place" is The Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Helpbook: 101 Useful Tips and How To's - it's available via

over 5 years, said...

I need to hire in-home care for my mom. I'm new to this process, so what's the best way to go about finding a trusted caregiver?

over 5 years, said...

Caring for my husband in our home. Our son does the yard and maintance. He has come to the stage where I do all the driving he gets lost easily Havng trouble getting him t eat much at all. Any ugestions on that would b appreciated

over 6 years, said...

Hello Anonymous, Thank you for your question. I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. That must be difficult for and your family. If you'd like to, you can post your question in our Ask & Answer section, here: ( ). Take care, and good luck. -- Emily | Community Manager

over 6 years, said...

Finding a helpful friend appears to be the biggest problem for me. Most of my dearest friends are either handicapped themselves or have left,having moved to assisted living or have died. We have no social life and nobody to help. we have funds put away for care and will use that as long as it lasts. My guy is a veteran of World War II. Are there any places where he can go for care after that?

over 6 years, said...

Hi drawer, Thank you very much for your question. I'm very sorry to hear about your situation, that sounds like a tricky situation. If you'd like, you can post your question in our Ask & Answer section, here: ( ). Good luck to you. -- Emily | Community Manager

over 6 years, said...

Hello! I need help ! SOS! SOS! SOS! I am living in the Lenox Summit Apartments in the Atlanta , GA , NE -30319 . Above me is living one men , who is smoking 24 hours during the day and night. On the my floor are living two people , who are smoking two during the 24 hours . I ask all time them : please don't smoke in the yours apartments , because it is very dengerouse and i can not accept this . All smoke came in to the my apartment . More 3 years i have very blood pressure and i am now passive smoker too, i think . But nobody don't listen me and ignore , what i ask them ! Why ? Because office menegment let them to smoke . Before Meneger from office did not let to smoke in the apartments. But now they told to me : it is there home.... But i am thinking it is there home , but they are not owner this building , where live more 100 people, disable older people with many desis . I have very high holesterol , blood pressure, diabet, revmatoidnyi artritis and more, concer now too. I am daing in the my apartment , because this smoke abuse me very much! But office meneger told : if you don't like it , you can move from here out ! Why ? I think :it is dickrimination people , which don't like to smoke! Now goverment doesn't let people to smoke in the cinema, theatre, cafe bar, and more place... But office ignore this ... What i must to do ? I don't want move from here now. When i ask office change my apartment in to another , apartment , they did not let me. But very much noise came from street and solid. Please help me with this smoke ! I can't any more ! It is abuse me very much! I am disable older women . Excuse me at my mistakes , maybe.

over 6 years, said...

I don't know which way to turn. I have an elder Aunt that insist upon living in her home alone with all sorts of health issues and will not let anyone come in her household in fear of paying high cost in home care.Someone please advise soon.

over 6 years, said...

Aging in place for a single person over 75 with chronic health concerns to "age in place" creates a great deal of stress on family members, friends and neighbors when a crisis occurs. And they tend to occur increasingly often over time. The cost of even part-time 'caregivers -- usually non medically trained CNA's' is exorbitant for 90 of families if retained more than one year and few LTC policies cover this type of care giving. This is in particular a "older woman's problem" -- meaning that women over 55 bear the brunt of the work and management for the care for those in their familiy. They often sacrifice their jobs and their own future financial ability to care for themselves. Co-housing for seniors is an up and coming idea that solves many problems. Shared housing expenses, shared untrained care, social support for one another, and a larger group of family or friend overseers to share the load of time and money. "Aging in Place" usually assumes the best possible outcomes. This is poor planning and pie in the sky thinking for those with a chronic illness.

over 7 years, said...

The best way to allow older adults to gracefully age in place is to set up an Emergency Alert Response System in their home. A personal emergency response system can be the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. With an emergency response system, help is always at your fingertips. Simply push a button and you will be connected to the required emergency services at once. Slips and falls are the most common causes of injury in the household. Active seniors can now maintain their independence with the assurance that help will be sent when and if they need it. Simply push the button on your wireless device and help will be sent quickly in the event of an accident or medical emergency.