A Declaration of Independence? The Debate Over Aging in Place


Posted on July 1, 2015 by Michele Macmartin

The recent New York Times article “Imprisoned by Independence explores how older adults’ preference for “aging in place” may have inadvertently helped imprison them. According to the article, the desire for seniors to remain in familiar surroundings, and the fear of being placed in an institution, have millions fighting to remain in homes they can rarely leave due to physical limitations or health conditions.

According to a study reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers found that almost two million people over 65 rarely or never leave their homes. Social contacts tend to decrease for a variety of reasons, including retirement, the death of friends and family or lack of mobility. Even perceived social isolation – the feeling that you are lonely – can be as harmful as a true absence of interaction. Is this really the independent lifestyle they envisioned by remaining at home?

The realities of living alone are often less attractive than the idealism of independence. Aging in place can lead to a lack of proper nutrition, not taking medications as prescribed, an absence of stimulating conversation and a struggle to get dressed, bathed or even moved in and out of the bathroom. Recognizing the reality of isolated living allows family members to see the possibilities of “active aging.” Senior living options like those at Atria communities offer the independence to make fulfilling lifestyle choices, including restaurant-style dining, social engagement programs and discreet care if needed.

According to a study conducted by the Journals on Gerontology, researchers found that when they controlled the demographic characteristics for health and function, seniors in assisted living communities were found to have gone outside more than those living in their own homes.

Assisted living can be a freeing step for both older people and their families. Many who move into senior living communities realize that they’re living more independently now than they had been in their own home. They discover that independence is about choice, engagement, and the freedom to live a fulfilling life.

Category: News In Aging

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