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Aging in Place

Until recently there were very few choices as to what one can do as we age to where we have difficulty caring for ourselves. We could either move in with one of our children or relatives or go to an assisted living facility. Most of us would rather not admit that we even need help, but at some point it becomes difficult to ignore the fact that we do. We find ourselves not being able to complete some of the simple tasks that need to be done during the day and see that our health or physical condition prevent us from getting around as easily as we used to.

Precisely because of the needs of the aging generation, a new choice has become available. Technology construction and healthcare have joined forces to produce a new option called “aging in place”. This option enables an aging population to remain in the house they have lived in, and would like to remain in. Aging in place takes into consideration the needs of the aging population to have a house that enables them to move around easily, continue to function in the way they are accustomed and allow just enough monitoring to summon help when it is needed. Technology has become sophisticated enough to stay out of the way when it is not needed, yet be able to decide when there is a problem and to summon the correct help when it is required. Not only will it summon help, but it will record your vital signs, enable you to receive e-mails and photos and even engage in video conference calls with your family and friends.

Your decision to stay at home affects more people than you might think. You may have already made the decision that you plan on staying at home, alone, without considering how the ones who love you might feel. Did it ever occur to you that your children or loved ones might be worried about how you are getting along? You may not realize it, but there are others out there that worry and feel an obligation to check-in or come by and make sure that you are okay. This sometimes makes it difficult for your loved ones with families to balance working, spending time at home, and checking in to see if you are having any problems. In fact, it is actually more of a burden for you to live alone than it is to live with them.  I personally have always been fascinated with technology and, in fact, I never go anywhere without my cell phone, including vacation. People have asked me if I find it a burden having my cell phone interrupt me while I am relaxing. To me, the technology does just the opposite. If I was away, knowing I could not be reached, I would always worry that there might be something wrong and I would have to check in periodically. By having the cell phone with me, I know that if I am needed I can be reached. I don't have to answer the phone every time it rings. I can shut it off, and when it's on I know who is calling. It gives me peace of mind and makes it easier for me to relax. The same is true if you install the “Aging in Place” technology in your home. Your loved ones know that they don't have to worry as long as they're not getting a phone call from the system that's installed in your home.  Rather than running in all the time to quickly see how you are doing, they can now come to have a leisurely visit when the time permits.

One of the most important factors of aging in place today is the fact it has become more affordable than ever. If you consider that most of us will own our homes by the time we're ready to age in place, financing the modifications and installing the technology is far less expensive than going to any assisted living facility. Let's say you did a major renovation with elevator, ramps, electronic monitoring and a new kitchen, so you borrowed $100,000 for 20 years at 6% interest. Your monthly payment would be about $716 a month. If you were to decide, instead, to move to an assisted living facility, your cost would be in the range of $3000 to $5000 a month. At the end of 20 years you will have spent, at the low-end, $720,000 and have nothing left. If you stay at home, at the end of 20 years you will have spent $172,000 but you will still own the home you are living in. Not to mention, your home has the added value of the renovations that make it accessible to friends and family that have a handicap.


Alternative

Monthly cost

Annual cost

Cost at 20 years

Assets after 20 years

Assisted living

$4000.00

$48,000.00

$720,000.00

0

Aging in place

$716.00

$8,592.00

$172,000.00

Value of your home

Staying at home allows you to be with your neighbors and friends, in familiar surroundings, at a much lower cost. It is surely worth looking at as an alternative option to assisted living or transplanting to another location. There are many facets to an aging in place project that need to be addressed by an experienced professional. It is advisable not to attempt such a project without consulting a certified specialist to determine what is needed and overseeing the implementation of each step to protect your investment so you will receive the best possible outcome.

How does one take advantage of this aging in place choice that we now have? Your local building association can point you towards a professional who is certified in aging in place. The AARP has information and can assist you in finding a contractor that can help. The Internet has information in a number of places, such as the National Association of Homebuilders (http://www.nahb.org). The National Aging in Place Association (http://www.ageinplace.org), has chapters all over the US and can help you find qualified professionals.  Consumer organizations like the CEA, (Consumer Electronics Association), will have information on the technology that is available and the people who can install it for you.

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