What does it mean to “age in place”? According to the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention the definition is, “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” The average life expectancy in this country continues to rise, and with this blessing comes challenges and responsibilities to help maintain the safety and quality of life for a growing senior population. With families more spread out than ever, many adult children worry about making decisions for – and ensuring the well-being of – their aging parents from a distance.
Most people’s first desire is to remain in their own home as they age, and there are important ways that homes can and should be updated to ensure one’s physical safety. Some of these modifications involve removing tripping hazards, placing assistive devices in bathrooms, re-arranging furniture, adding ramps, ensuring kitchen safety, and more. There are also concerns about medication management and transportation that may need to be resolved. There are many resources available in Baltimore to help people continue their independent lifestyle and remain in their communities and their own homes.
Jewish Community Services offers an Elder Care Management program. From their website, “JCS Elder Care Management supports individuals in their desire to continue living in their own homes or in other settings with maximum independence and dignity while providing their family and caregivers with peace of mind.” Please see their website for the many ways they can assist, including consultations, assessments, and care management services.
Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. or, CHAI presents a broad range of community resources for seniors. They offer a supportive community network, housing services and loans, home repair, and other community outreach and volunteer programs. You can find all of these resources, as well as ways to volunteer or donate, by visiting their website.
Another vital part of being able to remain independent includes taking care of one’s self not only physically but mentally as well. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore offers a multitude of classes and events for seniors that allow them to socialize and remain connected to their community while staying physically active, strengthening both body and mind. There are classes available for visual arts, performing arts, book clubs, as well as their Lifelong Learning programs which offer enrichment classes on art and literature. Many of the programs and classes they offer are free or low cost. To find out more and see a comprehensive list of services they offer, you can visit their website.
If you are interested in learning about how to create more opportunities for the community to better “age in place” you can also visit the National Aging in Place Council.
Thinking about our future or our parents’ futures isn’t always easy, but putting plans and practices in place now can help us ease into the next phase of life. Albert Einstein said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” With the proper care and planning you can continue that balance well into the future, independently, safely and comfortably.