Dear Donna,

My mother is 82 years old and living at home. We have recently begun discussing assisted living and other senior living community options in case she needs them in the future. Mom is currently in good health, and she has stated that she would very much prefer to stay in the same house she has lived in for the past 50 years.

I want to make sure she is both happy and comfortable when it comes to her future living arrangements. I’ve heard of the phrase “aging in place.” Can you explain what that means, and whether it might be an option for my mother?


Debra in Dearborn

Is Aging in Place a Viable Option

Dear Debra,

I’m glad that you and your mother are being proactive about her future needs. It’s always a good idea to start early when exploring senior living options in Michigan—even if though your mom’s goal is to remain living in her own home.

The Centers for Disease Control define the term “aging in place” as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

Many seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes during their retirement years, as the familiar environment provides a great deal of comfort to them. This could very well be a viable option for your mother, provided you give some thought to a few important issues.

Is her house senior friendly?

You mentioned that your mom is in good health, which can make it much easier for her to stay in her current location. However, it’s important to consider that there might come a day when she is not as healthy or as mobile as she is now. If she lives in large, multi-story home, it will make moving around much harder than if she were in a single-level home or perhaps an apartment or condo. This is why many seniors opt to downsize their homes during their retirement years, choosing smaller layouts that allow for better accessibility.

If your mother doesn’t like the idea of giving up her home, then take a realistic look at her current residence. It might be possible to make some home renovations that will make living in the same space both easier and safer for your mother, such as installing a shower instead of a tub in the bathroom for more accessible bathing.

Do family members live nearby?

Aging in place becomes a much more viable option when your loved one has a support network nearby. If you or other family members live in the area, then it might be possible for you to take turns checking in on your mom on a regular basis.

If family doesn’t live nearby, you may be able to enlist the support of an in-home care aide to visit your mother for regular wellness checks. It might also be a good idea to hire a housekeeping service to help with keeping your mother’s home clean and organized.

Additionally, a local church or nonprofit organization might have volunteers willing to help out with things like shoveling snow or running errands.

What type of budget does your mother have?

Keep in mind that the expenses associated with providing all of these services can add up to be more than it would cost for your mother to move to a senior living community. So it’s important that you have an open and honest discussion about finances when you are creating a plan for the future.

Aging in place can be a good option for seniors, provided there is enough support in place to make staying at home a convenience rather than a burden. I hope this information is helpful, Debra! Good luck to you and your mom.