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What is aging in place?

A house is more than just a place to live. It's where we gather with loved ones, make memories, and feel safe. A home is a reflection of our identity, values, and accomplishments. It's no surprise that most of us want to age in place, in the home we know. 

What is aging 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.

How to age in place

Studies suggest that approximately 75% of adults want to age in place, so talk to your loved one to understand their wishes.1 You can increase their prospects of aging in place by thinking and talking through each of these planning considerations. 
Focus on safety and accessibility 
There are several things you can do to make your loved one's home safer for them, and there are experts—such as occupational therapists or geriatric care managers—who can help evaluate the situation for you. Ask your loved one how they’re managing at home. Listen for hesitation. Look for unexplained bruises from possible falls. Some relatively easy fixes include: 
  • Adding a shower chair or raised toilet seat. 
  • Installing hardwood floors or wall to wall carpeting, instead of throw rugs. 
  • Moving nonessential furniture that could be a hazard. 
  • Adding extra lighting to halls, closets, dark rooms, outdoor paths. 
  • Exchanging doorknobs for lever-style handles. 
  • Adding grab bars to showers and by the toilets. 
  • Storing heavier items at a comfortable level (about waist-high). 
  • Installing anti-scalding devices for sinks, tubs, and showers. 
  • Considering devices that shut off the stove and oven automatically. 

Find a contractor for aging in place remodeling 
If you decide to investigate options for remodeling, visit the National Association of Homebuilders website to learn about recommended modifications. You can also search the directory of experienced remodelers. 
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. 
Necessary tasks for living independently 
Beyond the physical safety of the home, managing daily life is important to staying independent. Your loved one may need help with some or all of these activities of daily living at some point. 
  • Taking the right medication at the right time 
  • Cooking nutritious food safely and eating enough 
  • Bathing and grooming 
  • Laundry and cleaning 
  • Socializing 
  • Managing finances 

High-tech and low-tech tools 
Technology plays an increasingly important role in preserving our independence and safety as we age. There are a number of products and services that could help you feel more confident that your loved one is managing on their own, including: 
  • Wearables that measure activity and location, detect falls, and alert emergency services. 
  • Smart pillboxes that flash or remain locked until it's time to take a dose. 
  • Sensors that know when or how often the front door or refrigerator is opened. 
  • Home monitoring systems that track eating, sleeping, medication usage, and even vital signs and weight. 
Don't forget about lower-tech approaches like: 
  • Labeling 
  • Lists 
  • Simple written instructions 
  • Weekly pill reminder cases 
  • Automatic LED nightlights 
  • Ridesharing apps 
  • Delivery services for food, prescriptions, and other necessities 

Aging and staying safe on the road

Driving often equates with independence as we age, it's likely that your loved one will want to keep driving as long as possible. Ask your loved one how they are managing on the road. Check the overall condition of their car. Ride with them to see how they fare under different conditions. 
Keep in mind:2 
  • Driving requires memory, attention, and executive functions like the ability to plan and complete tasks. 
  • Your loved one needs the flexibility and motor control to get in and out of the car, buckle a seatbelt, and turn to survey traffic. 
  • Regular vision and hearing screening are important after age 65. 
  • Exercise programs can help boost both physical and cognitive abilities that are critical to staying safe behind the wheel. 

Top tips for safe driving 
  • Always wear a seatbelt. 
  • Avoid driving after dark and during rush hour. 
  • Avoid high-speed roads and distractions (radio, cell phone). 
  • Be aware of medications that can cause drowsiness or confusion. 
  • Consider a defensive driving course, the completion of which might also allow for a discount on insurance premiums. 
Check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it provides a variety of educational information and resources on older drivers, including materials designed for your aging loved one and those who care about their safety.   
When driving is no longer safe 
State laws vary around driver’s license renewals. Some require vision testing or in-person renewals after a certain age—objective milestones that could make it easier to frame what can be a difficult conversation with your loved one. But don't wait to have the conversation if you notice or are informed of signs of unsafe driving like scratches or dents on their car, traffic tickets, or confusion behind the wheel.3
Before the conversation 
  • Consider alternate forms of transportation. 
  • Check out public transportation options and local programs for seniors. 
  • Investigate ridesharing apps. 
  • Explore delivery services for groceries and other necessities. 
While it shouldn’t be a first course of action, if drastic measures are necessary, you could consider reporting your loved one to the Department of Motor Vehicles or calling the police to report an unsafe driver. 

Social and emotional considerations

Mental and emotional well-being are as important as physical health. In fact, not only does strong social support lead to better mental health, it can help maintain physical health.4
  • Address physical limitations. Incontinence, difficulty with balance, and poor vision or hearing problems could lead your loved one to avoid social interactions. Mobility aids or similar adaptive devices could help. 
  • Use social media. Meet-up groups are available for people of all ages, as well as age-specific tours, day trips, and clubs for everything from theater and art to dog training and gardening. 
  • Look into local senior centers. These are great places to find people of varying ages to socialize and play games with. You can also find out about other groups and activities there. 
  • Consider volunteering. Aging loved ones can offer a lot to others in the form of their experience and expertise. Check out AmeriCorps Seniors, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that matches volunteers with service opportunities. 
  • Join spiritual or religious organizations. Whether your loved one belongs to a church or is considering joining one, these groups can be a great source of comfort and community. 
  • Consider a pet. Taking care of pets can give people a sense of purpose, and the bond formed between people and animals can have a positive effect on health. Studies have shown a link between pets and social and emotional support, and heart health—just petting a dog can lower blood pressure.5

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Aging in place

Know these 6 success factors to help you age in place.
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. “Safe Driving for Older Adults,” National Institute on Aging, December 20, 2022, 3. Robert Segal, M.A., Monika White, Ph.D. and Lawrence Robinson, "Aging Issues: Age and Driving,”HelpGuide, June 15, 2023, 4. Sheldon Reid, “Social Support for Stress Relief,”HelpGuide, March 2, 2023, 5. "Pets and Seniors," American Humane, July 26, 2023,

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