I will leave my friend’s name out, just in case she is reading this blog, but I think her reaction is one that many people have because they are not aware of the range of housing options for older adults.
There isn’t one large leap from living independently in one’s home to needing assisted living — there are numerous steps and choices.
Housing needs are not clear-cut nor consistent. There are a continuum of needs, finances, preferences and opportunities.
Housing is likely the biggest investment most of us will ever make — our home becomes a place we can call our sanctuary, and build memories. As such, the “where” and “how” we live are among the most important decisions we make. And these decisions cannot — or should not — be made suddenly or in a moment of crisis.
According to statistics, more than 23% of NJ’s total population is over 60 — and by the year 2030, all Baby Boomers will be of retirement age. Additionally, studies show that the majority of adults 50+ wish to remain in their homes and/or communities as long as possible, with a sense of independence and connection.
We need to spend time educating ourselves about available options, planning in advance for adapting our current home, exploring our next home and preparing for change.
For all of these reasons, we are hosting the NJAAW Housing Series, bringing together experts in the realm of NJ housing to explore options at each stage and need, to help you make informed decisions for yourself or for the older adults in your life.
The series takes place online on consecutive Wednesdays in February at 4 p.m.
Speakers will explain strategies to help you stay in your homes with modifications and built design. They will also discuss options for getting help in the home, downsizing and when assisted and supportive living becomes necessary.
You’ll find more information at njaaw.org/events. Please register once for Zoom links to all four sessions Those who register will also have on-demand access to session recordings.
There is no way to get aging “right”…But it does help to plan.
Something is happening each and every day across New Jersey. Across the United States. Across the entirety of the planet. We are all getting older.
Like it or not, each and every one of us is on a journey of aging. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are aging. We tend to think of aging as being something saved for an arbitrary age, like 50, 60, 65,…etc. We could list off the ages at which society (for one reason or another) has decided we’ve hit a certain benchmark in aging. Whether it’s Social Security benefits, Medicare enrollment, retirement, “senior citizen” discounts, or a screening your doctor now wants you to undergo, we tend to have these changes attached (or attach ourselves) to specific ages or with “being of a certain age.” We think of them as being times in our life when a monumental change has occurred, a mark of “aging.”
But the truth is, regardless of what arbitrary number might be assigned to program enrollments or coupons, we don’t age in random, sudden leaps. We age constantly and gradually. While this might make it tempting to wait to plan for your later years, you should plan now. No one wants to be caught unawares by changes as you age or a sudden health crisis, so it makes sense to plan for your later years as early as possible. Think of planning now as training for becoming an older adult.
What if you already consider yourself an older adult? That’s not to say this blog doesn’t apply to you too! It absolutely does—no matter where you are or where you consider yourself to be in your path of aging, it makes sense to plan now for the road ahead, whether that road is two days or twenty years from now!
Having plans in place will mitigate much stress and bad decision-making in emergency situations. Much heartache and avoidable stressed is caused by being forced to make difficult decisions in the heat of the moment; time spent worrying about what the best decision is and then wondering if the right decision is the one you made
What are some priorities to focus on? We’re so glad you asked. In this three-part series we’ll cover different aspects on how-to age well as we lead up to our 21st Annual Conference. If you’d like to register for the conference but haven’t yet, go to www.njfoundationforaging.org for more information.
This week we’ll cover: mobility and transportation.
Whether or not you anticipate needing ambulatory aids like a wheelchair, walker, or cane, or already use one, mobility is a serious consideration for all of us as we continue to age. Because it’s impossible to guess how much your mobility may be impacted in the future (either through changes in health or sudden accidents) it’s best to come up with contingency plans for different scenarios. Ask yourself the following questions for differing levels of physical ability. For instance, how comfortable would you be in your current home if walking unaided was difficult? What if you needed to use a cane, crutches, walker, or a wheelchair?
If you live in a home with stairs or are looking to move, consider how your living situation might need to accommodate future needs. Would you be able to fit in a chairlift? Or an elevator? Are your stairs wide enough? Too steep?
Stairs are one of the most common considerations, but there are many others that are often forgotten. Would you be able to get into your bathroom if you needed assistance? How about your shower? Would your cabinets be difficult to use if you had limited range of motion in your arms? Could you open your drawers or doors if you hand limited hand strength?
Even if you’re unable to move or implement these changes now, plan for what you’ll do in the future if the need arises. Will you need to move or will you be able to retrofit your home? If you need to move are there places in your community you could easily move to or will you need to expand your search? Will you move or make these changes at a certain date in anticipation of future needs? Having a plan in a place will help you meet your needs without making a move or renovation more stressful.
If you’d like to find an aging-in-place specialist, you can use this link to find one in your area: Living in Place
Whether you drive or not, you’ll likely need to consider how transportation will be impacted by aging as you get older. If public transportation is or will be your continuing form of transportation some considerations you may face are: distance to public transit routes, if public transit will serve your daily transportation needs, how you will get to and from transit stations, and any access or assistance you may need.
If you currently drive and plan to continue driving there are different considerations you’ll need to take into account. As age may affect your eyesight, hearing, and reflexes, it’s a good idea to regularly monitor any changes in your ability to drive or operate a motor vehicle. You may also want to consider regularly scheduling road tests to determine if your driving skills still meet the state licensing standards. Finally, it’s important to be willing to give up your keys if you need to. Although this can be a scary, frustrating, and emotionally and logistically difficult process for many, if driving has become dangerous for you or others, including drivers, pedestrians, animals, or property, it’s necessary to stop driving.
For many another option may be formal or informal car services. Although almost everyone will already be familiar with traditional car services and taxis, there are also newer services like Uber and Lyft (or GoGo Grandparent for those who don’t feel comfortable hiring an Uber/Lyft on their own) for a fee. Or you can call your area office on aging to see what services might be available in your area (you can call 1-877-222-3737 toll-free and be connected with your county’s office). If you’re fortunate enough to have relatives, friends, or caregivers nearby who can provide you with transportation, this is of course another option. Each of these options have different pros and cons. Private car services and taxis are generally the most expensive, but may be more reliable than other services or may give the riders more peace of mind. Services like Uber and Lyft have more price ranges, making them more affordable for many older adults, and you’re likely to find a ride any time day or night, but these services and the lack of consistency and accountability may make some people uncomfortable with using them. Lastly, volunteer services or the use of relatives/friends are wonderful and the most cost-effective of these transportation options, but riders may face limited availability of rides at times—however, you might form great friendships with your drivers!
There is no one solution to deciding how you will cope with mobility changes or transportation needs. Just as your life changes, so many the appropriate solution for you—having a plan, or even considering your current or future needs, is the first step to aging well.
Stay tuned for our next blog post, the second part in our “Planning to Age Well,” series: health, home and “after I’m gone.”
Mason Crane-Bolton is Communications Manager for the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. His writing has appeared in Epiphany, UU World, To Wake/To Rise,and others.
¬†NJFA is pleased to announce that we will be hosting an Encore Presentation of two sessions offered at our June conference. If you were unable to attend in June or if you did attend and did not get to these sessions, now is your chance!
¬†Also, please send this along to any colleagues who may have missed out on our June conference.
¬†Space is limited! Register today!
¬†NJFA Fall Seminar Series
Monday, November 10th
8:30 am to 12 pm
Crowne Plaza Monroe
Aging in Place for All
Land Use and Complete Streets- Considerations for age friendly communities.
NJFA will hold its 16th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 11th at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. The 2014 Keynote Speaker Jo Ivey Boufford, MD President of¬† The New York Academy ofMedicine.¬†Dr. Boufford will talk about the Age-friendly NYC initiative.¬†
Age-friendly NYC has consulted with thousands of older adults and enacted hundreds of low-cost improvements throughout the city including: the redesign of 600 intersections, commitments made by 1,000 local retail businesses, increased access to museums and universities and new creative transit options. In 2013, Age-friendly NYC was named the ‚ÄúBest Existing Age-friendly Initiative in the World‚Äù by the International Federation on Aging. The New York Academy of Medicine serves as the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on Aging, Urbanization and Globalization and advises cities and communities around the world on how to take on similar initiatives customized to the needs and strengths of their communities. Age-friendly Communities aim to complement essential health and social services by testing and spreading innovations to make the environment more accessible, affordable and welcoming to older people.
The 2014 conference workshop speakers will include policy makers, direct care & clinical practice specialists.
¬†Trenton- The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is pleased to announce the production and release of the fourth episode of Aging Insights, the Foundation‚Äôs new cable program. This episode, Maximizing Local Transportation Options, will be broadcast in January. Aging Insightsfocuses on information about aging issues and services. The program is available to public access stations.
¬†NJFA‚Äôs Executive Director, Grace Egan hosts the January show which looks at transportation options and innovations.¬† The guests include, Steve Fittante Director of the Middlesex County Office of Transportation, Karen Alexander, Director of Eldercare Services at United Jewish Communities (UJC) of Metro West and Jacque Rubel, founder of Aging in Place Partnership of South Brunswick. Mr. Fittante shared some of the innovative transportation options that have been developed during his 7 years in Middlesex County. Some of those services are a special community shuttle and travel training. Ms. Rubel in her work in South Brunswick has also incorporated travel training and worked with Mr. Fittante on adding routes to their community. Ms. Alexander relays the experience in senior housing communities supported by UJC Metro West, including the development of peer leaders who assist others in learning about transportation options.
All three of our guests are well informed on the topic of transportation and have worked with NJFA on several transportation studies and advocacy efforts.
September 23, 2010 is Fall Prevention Awareness Day!
For people over 65 years of age, a fall is serious thing. Falls and injuries from falls are a major threat to health, independence and quality of life. Every year 1 out of 3 older persons has a fall and most falls occur at home. With much focus on aging in place and finding ways for seniors to stay in their homes, preventing falls should be a vital part of that plan. There are steps you can take to make your home safer and prevent falls. Removing area rugs that can cause someone to slip or trip, as well as installing grab bars in bathrooms are some measures that can be taken to prevent falls at home. Someone who has already experienced a fall is also more likely to fall, so making lifestyle changes that can prevent another fall or serious injury from a fall are also important. For example, regular exercise can strengthen muscles, as well as, help with balance and gait. You‚Äôll also want to talk to your doctor about the medications your on to see if any of them could be increasing your risk of a fall, also keep in mind that consuming alcohol while on medication could contribute to a fall.
Falls are often the cause of serious injury in older adults and can lead to a hospital admission. Preventing falls can be done, as stated above, by making your home safer. In addition to the things you can do yourself, you can also have an evaluation by a physical or occupational therapist for help and suggestions for preventing falls at home. Exercise is key to keeping your independence for many reasons, but also for preventing falls. You can increase your strength and build muscle to protect your bones, you can also make sure you have a steady gait when walking and improve your balance, which could all prevent a fall or lessen injury from a fall. Senior centers and other community centers may offer exercise programs geared toward preventing falls or that are tailored for older adults.
For more information about preventing falls and about Fall Prevention Awareness Day visit:¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† NCOA- Center for Healthy Aging- Fall Prevention Information: http://www.healthyagingprograms.org/content.asp?sectionid=149