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How to age in place

“Aging in place” is the ability to live in your own home, as part of your own community—safely, comfortably, and independently—regardless of age, income, or ability level. In fact, nearly 75% of adults 50 or older prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible.1

However, studies show that 70% of adults 65 or older will need long-term care during their lifetime.2 And as you age you might find yourself needing assistance with everyday tasks in your home—things you once could do for yourself like cooking, caring for pets, and grocery shopping.

It’s important to be realistic and transparent with your loved ones about your future plans and wishes.

The basics for how to age in place

Physical safety and accessibility are top considerations for aging in place. To help you understand what needs to be done to make an existing home easier to age in, consider asking a specialist: 
  • Geriatric care managers can evaluate your living situation and suggest services that might help. 
  • Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) can evaluate your home, give you safety tips, and make recommendations on any potential renovations that may need to be done.

For potential mobility issues, a standard house or apartment may need to be renovated in order to accommodate mobility aids such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair. Installing a chairlift could help with difficulty navigating stairs.

Age in place: simple home modifications for accessibility

  • Add a shower chair or raised toilet seat in an existing bathroom. 
  • Secure throw rugs that could be tripping hazards. 
  • Move unnecessary furniture that could be a hazard. 
  • Add extra lighting to halls, closets, dark rooms, and outdoor paths. 
  • Exchange doorknobs for lever-style handles.
  • Add grab bars to showers and by the toilets. 
  • Store heavy items at a comfortable level about waist high. 
  • Install anti-scalding devices for sinks, tubs, and showers. 
  • Consider devices that shut off the stove and oven automatically.

Some improvements or special equipment added to a home for physical handicaps may be considered qualified medical expenses for certain types of medical plans, such as health savings accounts (HSAs) or retiree health accounts. Review your specific plan’s documents to learn more.

Remodeling with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS)

If you do decide to investigate options for remodeling, consider searching for a contractor, remodeler, or architect experienced with aging in place or universal design. The National Association of Home Builders, in collaboration with AARP, developed the CAPS program, which offers a directory of experienced remodelers with the CAPS designation on its website. Find an experienced CAPS-designated remodeler in your area.

Once you have a budget for the overall project, speaking with an experienced remodeler or contractor could help you decide what you can afford and how to move forward. Depending on the cost, downsizing and moving to a home that needs less work to be safe could make more sense.

Age in place: caregiving support

Aging in place is more than just physically getting around your house, it’s also managing daily life. As you age, it may be necessary to hire a caregiver to help with everyday tasks so you can stay in your home longer.

Necessary tasks for living independently

If staying in your home is important as you age, you should assess your ability to complete these tasks, with or without assistance. 
  • Taking the right medication at the right time 
  • Cooking nutritious food safely and eating enough 
  • Bathing and grooming
  • Laundry and cleaning 
  • Socializing 
  • Managing finances

In-home caregiving options

Caregivers can help with just a few daily living tasks or can give 24-hour a day specialized care. Find out what services are available in your area. Visit, interview, and read reviews of your local options to get a sense of their quality and whether they’re a fit for you.

  • Home health care. Provides help and care in your home such as cooking, cleaning, and going to the store, as well as companionship and social connections.
  • Home health aides. Provides help with bathing, grooming, and personal care for people who live at home or with their family. 
  • Evening care. Provides in-home care for those who need overnight support. 
  • Cohousing or independent living communities. Offers an option to live independently, with a close network of homes where people in the community help to care for each other as they age. Typically offers social activities, housekeeping, and meal options. 
  • Dog walkers and pet sitters. Provides help with the care of any pets, like visiting to make sure pets are fed or taking them for a walk so they get exercise.

Technology to help you age in place.

Technology has made it easier to age in place, with products and services that help you or your loved one monitor your situation remotely.

Sleek, new options for personal emergency response systems are available. Today’s tech options for detecting falls and calling for help include smartwatches and other products worn on the wrist with features like step counters. These can be inconspicuous and even stylish in some cases.

Special pillboxes can remain locked until it’s time to take a specific medication, flash to remind you to take your medicine, and be remotely monitored to make sure the right medications are taken at the right times. Also, monitoring systems can let children or caregivers place sensors around the house to monitor what’s going on—for example, how many times the refrigerator door is opened or closed, or if the front or back doors are opened. These systems help notify your loved one of changes in your usual patterns, which could indicate something’s wrong.

Resources to help you age in place

  • AARP HomeFit Guide. Find smart ways to make your home comfortable, safe, and a great fit. 
  • Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Offers access to health care services in the home, the community, and PACE centers. 
  • Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Provides access to resources that can help you remain in your home as you age. AAA services often vary by location but can include referrals for home health care aides, housekeepers, and transportation assistance. They can also offer counseling to help you navigate insurance and Medicare choices. 
  • Eldercare Locator. Helps connect older adults with trustworthy local support resources, including meals, home care, or transportation. 
  • State Health Insurance Assistance Programs. Offers help navigating Medicare with state-specific insurance counseling and assistance. 
  • Administration for Community Living. Provides links to a range of support services you may need to successfully live in your community.

When independent living is no longer an option: types of caregiving facilities

While you may not feel a sense of urgency today, it’s never too early to start thinking about what to do if living in your home is no longer an option. Here are some common types of outside care support you may need to consider at some point.

Adult day health care

Provides a safe place for people who need supervised care during the day or for half a day, typically offering social activities, meals, and sometimes health care.

Assisted living communities

Provides a blend of independence and specialized care, with residents generally living in apartment-sized homes and receiving help with daily activities, as needed.

Memory care

Provides specialized assisted living for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, including 24-hour supervision and trained staff to help ensure residents’ safety and comfort.

Nursing homes

Provides intensive medical care for people who are very ill or recovering from a serious health event, offering help with all daily living tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and eating.

Continuing care retirement communities

Provides a range of services so people can live in one place potentially for the rest of their lives, typically including apartments for independent living, assisted living facilities for when more care is needed, and nursing home services for round-the-clock care.

Adjusting your budget

As you review and adjust your budget, don’t forget to factor in expenses to make your home accessible should you want to age in place. You’ll also want to include any caregiving costs—these vary depending on the level of care you’ll need, your insurance eligibility, and where you live. For more information, review Types of senior and eldercare to see the average cost associated with each care option.

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1. Joanne Binette and Fanni Farago, “2021 Home and Community Preference Survey: A National Survey of Adults Age 18-Plus,” AARP Research, November 2021, 2. Richard W. Johnson, "What Is the Lifetime Risk of Needing and Receiving Long-Term Services and Supports?," June 24, 2021,

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.