Aging in Place

A majority of Americans either cannot afford Continuing Care or Assisted Care Communities, or they don’t want to spend their last years in this type of institution.  For some, cultural traditions promote the forming of family compounds to provide for the caring of their elders, but for most the options are either aging in place or moving in with their children. Most of the elderly I visited with regularly during my research were determined to develop strategies that would allow them to keep living where they were. These were long retired middle and working class individuals of modest means living in a semi-rural community, probably representative of a significant number of similar communities throughout the country. The majority of the group were determined not to move in with their children because they did not want to be a burden to them.

Aging in place in these circumstances is not easy and requires planning and strategies for survival. Individuals should learn what local services for the aging are available to them through federal, state agencies and local agencies such as human resource centers. One of the most critical issues for these elderly is the lack of available public transportation for day to day errands and medical appointments. Another issue is the high cost of in-home care which is not adequately covered by either Medicare or Medicaid. With both of these issues, seniors have to develop their own resources through prevailing on friends, neighbors and family in addition to use of formal institutional help.

Again though, planning in advance for the inevitable difficulties of advancing age, particularly for those with modest means and a desire to maintain their independence is key.