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How Community Environments Offer Better Quality of Life for Aging Adults

By Lydia Chan | September 24th, 2019

Growing older in a traditionally-styled home environment can be challenging as age takes its toll. Seniors sometimes face physical risks due to the structure of their homes, and they can face emotional risks due to isolation. Thankfully, there are some innovative solutions for aging seniors through community-oriented environments.

Alone and Isolated

Some statistics indicate more than a quarter of Americans over the age of 65 live alone. That lonely lifestyle can lead to a number of increased health risks, such as declining physical and mental condition, depression, cognitive issues, high blood pressure, and mortality. Paired with other health issues, even once-simple concerns can become a problem, such as being able to pick up groceries, meal preparation or getting to medical exams.

Many seniors realize too late that Medicare won’t help them when they need to get to the doctor. Medicare does cover transportation in the event of emergencies and near-emergencies, but it won’t transport them to their normal appointments.

There are other options available to help seniors with their transportation needs. Many seniors switch to Medicare Advantage plans for their healthcare coverage, as some plans connect seniors with ride-sharing services to shuttle them to medical appointments. Another option is to see if local medical facilities offer transportation to seniors to on-site appointments. There is also help through various statewide resources that assist older adults.

Sharing and Caring

Transportation, isolation, and problematic house structures are concerns that are being met head-on by many seniors and members of their communities. For example, one clever solution involves aging adults building community by sharing living arrangements. Seniors are buddying up to cohabit, which can greatly improve their quality of life. They can share responsibilities, companionship and expenses.

As HomeAdvisor explains, “As a matter of fact, a growing number of baby boomers are turning to shared living as an aging in place housing option. A 2014 AARP analysis of census data found approximately 132,000 households and 490,000 women over the age of 50 living with non-romantic peers.” By sharing their homes, they can split household duties, and if they need to hire assistance, they can split the expense.

Traditional Homes and Hazards

Aging often brings a gradual decline in certain abilities, and what was once a comfortable and safe living environment can become a hazardous one. Whether you live by yourself or with friends, it may become necessary to consider home alterations to improve safety.

As SeniorDirectory explains, there are several inexpensive modifications that help make a home more senior-friendly. For instance, widening doorways and hallways can make it easier to navigate with a scooter, walker or wheelchair. Throughout the home, lighting improvements can help older eyes see. Safety rails and grab bars enhance bathroom navigation, and a ramp with railings makes it easier to come and go from the home.

Branching Out

In various places throughout the U.S., a clever grassroots solution for aging in place is known as sprouting, which can be ideal for many senior citizens as well as the communities in which they live. Seniors collect in a given area, organize resources, then pool funds and services to create a support system. Often referred to as “village-to-village,” these nonprofit organizations provide village-style living arrangements with volunteers and staff to help seniors meet their needs.

These village-style arrangements can be ideal in many situations, helping seniors with safety, finances and physical assistance. Villages are often rent-controlled with structures specifically designed to encourage aging in place. Seniors looking for assistance with things like transportation, housekeeping and maintenance can connect with the help they need, whenever they need it. At the same time, they stay involved with the community.

Older adults often face their share of challenges, but thanks to community-oriented solutions, they don’t need to face them alone. Rethink the traditional home-living environment, and look to innovative solutions for improved safety and well-being. By staying involved with others, you can remain safe and supported, come what may.

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