What is Ageing in Place?
Ageing in place means that elderly residents decide to stay in the place of their choice for as long as they can comfortably.
Singapore has focused on home and community-based care to help its rapidly ageing population. The country has always promoted the philosophy of encouraging seniors to age in their own homes or within the communities they are familiar with.
Ageing in place leverages filial piety as family members are the key pillars of support for seniors.
Why is Ageing in Place Important?
Ageing in place is important for older adults who want to maintain independence. This is because it allows them to live in their ideal living arrangement, surrounded by the things that bring them comfort.
Aside from the emotional benefits, it also helps the elderly save money as they stay at home and receive care from their family and from community resources rather than move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home in Singapore. They may also remain eligible for government-funded healthcare and support services that would become unavailable once they move out.
One of the sources of health and happiness as we age is maintaining our independence. Maintaining independence provides achievement for the elderly, which gives them a great sense of self-worth and well-being. It keeps them feel in control of all the aspects of their life as they age.
However, being part of the community is also important. Aside from having autonomy, the elderly need to connect with the community through social activities, which will help them through loneliness and isolation which often come with ageing in place. Moreover, staying in a familiar place will help reduce the risk of having depression.
Moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility comes with costly living fees and expenses, that’s why ageing place helps reduce these costs which can provide great savings for the elderly.
When they stay at home, they can add a few modifications to their place and save money while maintaining their independence and relations with the community.
Increased physical activity
The elderly can continue with their preferred daily activities when they age in place, maintaining their independence and receiving support from caregivers as they need.
They can choose which daily exercise and movement they want to engage in daily, or they can go to senior activity centres where they can interact with their peers while engaging in various physical and entertaining activities.
Optimized diet and nutrition
When the elderly stay home, it gives them better control over their meaning and nutrition choices. There are healthcare providers who work with seniors to create healthy meals that meet their specific dietary requirements or restrictions.
Challenges of Ageing
No matter how we take care of our health or keep our mental health in check, aging changes everyone. Certain unavoidable physical, mental and emotional changes take place when you age, but not all of them are negative. For example, as we age, we learn to be more patient or that we tend to understand things more clearly.
Other changes may be subtle but common such as poor eyesight, less strength due to reduced muscle mass, diminished endurance, bone fragility, less balance, reduced hearing capacity, diminished mobility, and decreased flexibility.
Since these changes are common, planning for your future residence and medical care makes you better prepared for any challenge that may come.
Moreover, these changes also affect the everyday lives of the elderly such as their ability to go out and come back home, take public transportation, drive safely, make it to social events, or maintain their homes without accident, mishap or strain in their own mental and physical well-being.
Aside from emotional benefits, aging in place also provides financial savings to the elderly as they stay at home and receive care from their family members or community partners and resources rather than moving into a nursing home.
How to plan to age in place?
Ageing in place means that the senior lives in a comfortable environment with an improved quality of life. This principle approaches the senior’s quality of life not as they are used to but what makes it better.
To live comfortably, financial and economic plans should be done ahead. The senior should concern everyone as soon as possible in the earliest years of their life and thus should be created as early as possible with chances, revisions and adjustments throughout with changing needs and requirements.
What support can help me age at home?
There are different home-based care which can help seniors stay at home, live in a comfortable environment, and maintain their independence. There are also in-home services which can be availed of for short-term, which is good for people recovering from an illness or an operation, or for long-term for those who need constant help.
Most of the time, these support services are provided by the senior’s family members, neighbours, or friends, which are often supplemented by professional caregivers and community resources.
Seniors need help with daily activities including taking a bath, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, moving around, or eating. Also called “Activities of Daily Living” or ADL, the physical, mental, and emotional changes in their life can affect how they do their daily activities.
Seniors who live alone may simply need someone to check on them, which can be done by family members, neighbours, or nearby friends who can drop by regularly.
There are times that seniors would find it hard to do simple cleaning in the house, grocery shopping, laundry, and other similar chores. There are organizations in Singapore that have volunteers who regularly do short visits to seniors to provide support and assistance.
Due to physical changes, seniors may find it hard to cook their meals or they might not be eating anything nutritious. Friends can invite seniors to share cooking duties or to have a potluck dinner. Other religious and local senior centres serve meals, and meal delivery programs that can be purchased.
Meal delivery programs provide healthy and nutritious meals to a person’s home either on a daily or weekly basis. It can be specially changed to cater to a senior’s special diet or dietary restrictions.
Seniors may need help with certain tasks such as paying their bills or filling out health insurance forms. A family member can help them with these tasks, but there are also trained volunteers and professionals who can help.
Family members and friends can also help them pay their bills online through websites. The senior can also consider providing someone they trust with a power of attorney to discuss financial matters with others, which can help deal with creditors, pay bills, or find out about other benefits.
If seniors live alone, there are concerns that they may suddenly fall sick, get injured, or get lost and there’s no one around them who can help. There are medical services available such as alert systems, fall monitors, or GPS tracking devices which can help lower the risks.
As for their mental health, some counsellors or caregivers deal with stress and help them understand their feelings. These counsellors can also develop plans for any sudden or unexpected events.
Common Concerns about Ageing in Place
Seniors may have a hard time getting around, finding activities or staying connected to the community as these may become harder as you age. There are different resources available that they can opt for to ease these concerns.
Getting around — at home and in town
Family, friends and neighbours are the best sources of help as you age in place. They can help seniors with their errands and chores, to keep them company, to drive them to doctor’s appointments. If a senior is physically able, they can trade services with neighbours and friends where one cooks dinner while one does the grocery shopping.
Finding activities and friends
Different community resources by non-profit organizations or the government can help a senior find a sense of community and activities.
They can participate in the Live Well, Age Well programme of the Health Promotion Board where they can sign up for different events and activities or they can spend some time with the therapeutic gardens set up by the National Parks Board which can give them a serene and comfortable environment to relieve stress and improve their mental health.
Due to certain health complications as we age, seniors who live alone may have certain safety and health concerns. They may talk to their doctor to receive a medical alert ID bracelet or an emergency medical alert system which calls on to medical and other emergency services via the electronic monitor in case the elderly is lost, is injured, or requires urgent medial assistance.
Most homes are built to accommodate agile and healthy people, which offers little accessibility and use as one age. As the seniors age, it’s important to do home modifications which can help them age at home comfortably which include grab bars, wheelchair ramps, widened hallways and doorways, and other adaptive features.
Getting help during the day
Seniors who live alone may need the help of a caregiver for support in certain activities that may be strenuous to their health. If these caregivers are not available, some organizations have volunteers who regularly visit seniors to provide support, assistance, and companionship.
Ageing in place is a choice
There are a lot of challenges that come with ageing in place such as health care concerns, community support, finding activities, or getting assistance with daily activities. Before someone decides to age in place, they have to decide the level they want such as independent houses or a senior group home in Singapore. The choices are varied depending on the senior’s needs and budget.
Before starting, it’s important to make a list of what’s important for seniors as they age and what type of services they will require in the future.
What does it mean to my family?
Ageing in place involves planning, which requires the seniors to make their choices and preferences clear to their families ahead. While the principle has given seniors the chance to maintain their independence, it doesn’t mean that they have to do everything themselves. They can choose which parts they can do themselves and which ones they would need the support of their family, neighbours, or friends.
Learn about different local communities, support groups, and elderly care centres
There’s no need to be alone as you age in place. Some organizations help and support seniors through various social activities, while the government has been providing different resources which can be utilized by seniors to comfortably age in place.
However, there are also co-living apartments available in Singapore where you can comfortably age in place while receiving all the adequate care, support, and activity you would need to feel loved. Retire Genie offers co-living apartments and group homes for seniors who want to age in place with their peers. These apartments foster connection between residents and make sure that not only are their healthcare needs met but also other aspects of their lives to give a holistic, comfortable, and enriching environment.