Tips for Aging in Place Successfully


Published: 02/26/2012


AARP has formally asked people where they most want to be as they age, and well over 90 percent of survey participants said “home” (probably without flinching). Yet so many of us, when faced with the challenges of caring for an aging parent or relative, are quick to consider nursing home or assisted living care.


There are certainly exceptions. Sometimes, residential or skilled care is the best option. Sometimes, insurance coverage or the ability to pay privately determines placement. Occasionally, the person who needs care prefers a move, either because they desire the company of peers offered in a community setting or don’t want to be a burden on their family.


However, many adult children, grateful for the sacrifices their parents made over the years in providing for them, are happy to return the favor, whether they move their parents into their home, move in with Mom and Dad, or live locally and can check in daily.


Aging in Place Takes Effort

Whatever the reason for choosing “aging in place” over a transition to a senior care home, remember to plan ahead as much as possible.


Aging in place may not cost as much as a nursing home, but it still requires a great deal of effort. You’ll need to arrange transportation to medical appointments, the grocery store, and the hair salon. If Mom is not physically able to get out or move around at home with ease, you’ll need someone to bring her the mail, do her grocery shopping, and help her with household management tasks (laundry, mowing the lawn, cleaning, cooking, etc.).


Consider these tips for helping a loved one age in place successfully:


  1. Know your resources and plug in. Yes, it will take time to identify resources in the community, but the internet makes this process much easier -- and you don’t even have to leave home. Caring for an aging parent is tough. You can’t do it alone, and there are people and professionals who can help. Get to know who and where they are and how their services could help your loved one.
  2. Organize all important documents. If Mom has a stroke, she won’t be able to tell you where her medical information or advanced directives are located. Review these important papers together, then file them in a secure yet accessible location.
  3. Establish a system; delegate responsibility. There are many care coordination tools available online. Our Family Portal is one of them, and it’s a fantastic (and free!) way to manage appointments, meetings, medications and more. Once you’ve established a good routine or schedule, be sure to pull in other families to pitch in so you don’t burn out.
  4. Set boundaries. Learn to say no, or figure out where there are gaps in care that may need to be filled by someone other than you. Remember, your family needs you too. Make clear distinctions between time with your senior parent, your spouse, your children, and of course time for you to recharge.
  5. Communicate often. With the doctors, with your loved one, with your family members, with neighbors and friends -- when you’re caring for someone, stay in touch with your support network and keep those who need to be in the know informed about a parent or relative’s health status.