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Seniors Aging in Place: What Do They Want?

Cute senior couple hugging on sofa

What do senior citizens want when it comes to aging in place? And what do they need?

Those are questions the National Council on Aging set out to answer when it conducted its United States of Aging Survey in 2015.

The survey involved interviews with 1,650 seniors around the country, as well as professionals – doctors, pharmacists and Area Agencies on Aging staff – who work with the elderly.

These two groups – the seniors and the professionals – often had very different ideas. Here are some of the things the survey found:

Staying at home

“Older adults and professionals have different perspectives on what it takes to age independently,” the survey report says.

A majority of seniors – 50 percent — have been in the same house for more than 20 years and three quarters of them say they look forward to aging in place: that is, living there for the rest of their lives.

Bathroom for people with disabilities in modern settingAnd there are many seniors who have begun to make improvements that will help them age in place, such as upgrading their bathrooms (34 percent) and installing better lighting (28 percent).

Both professionals (97 percent) and seniors (62 percent) say they want to see services that help older adults make home repairs and modifications.

Most older adults and professionals say seniors are prepared for the aging process overall, but the seniors expressed far more confidence in their abilities. Just 10 percent of professionals said they thought older Americans were “very prepared” to age, as opposed to 42 percent of seniors.

Elderly couple pointing and looking at sticky notes remindersThe seniors’ other concerns about aging in place included:

  • Worrying about becoming a burden to others
  • Memory loss
  • Not being able to drive/leave the house

Concerns about aging

According to the survey, older Americans and the professionals who treat them differ when it comes to their mental and physical health.

For senior citizens, those concerns were:

  • Maintaining their physical health (40 percent)
  • Memory loss (35 percent)
  • Maintaining their mental health (32 percent)

Caregivers, meanwhile, said the biggest concerns facing seniors were:

  • Protection against scams (43 percent)
  • Memory loss (38 percent)
  • Affordable housing (38 percent)

Senior couple talking with doctor.Both seniors and caregivers agreed that eating right, getting enough sleep and keeping a positive attitude were all important ways older people could stay healthy.

However – and this may not be that surprising – professionals and seniors differed when it came to the importance of keeping doctor’s appointments (90 percent vs. 62 percent) and taking medication as prescribed (89 percent vs. 63 percent).

Financial concerns

Senior Adult Couple Going Over Papers in Their Home with Agent.“Professionals place a much higher emphasis on finances than older adults and are especially concerned when it comes to older adults’ ability to maintain health care costs as they age,” the survey says.

Seniors identified rising cost of living (28 percent) and unexpected medical bills (24 percent) as their two key financial concerns.

The professionals who were surveyed were even more worried about the specter of surprise health costs, with 87 percent listing this as a key concern.

Their other big worries included fears that seniors don’t have enough disposable income (84 percent compared to the 18 percent of older adults who took the survey) and that they could be vulnerable to financial scams (83 percent as opposed to 13 percent of seniors).

How can a stair lift help with seniors aging in place?

pennsylvania stair lift from MediTekAs we noted earlier, many senior citizens recognize that aging in place often involves transforming their homes, whether that means putting in better lighting, upgrading their bathrooms, or installing home modifications such as stair lifts.

With a stair lift, seniors can retain access to every floor of their home. They’ll minimize their risk for falling and avoid having to do things like turning a downstairs room into a bedroom.

The team at Pennsylvania Stairlifts is dedicated to working with seniors and their families to make their homes safer and more accommodating. Contact us today to learn how we can help you age in place.

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