Aging & Longevity
Aging in Place sounds great but may not be for
Boomers or their parents
There is a lot more going on at the group home to
support successful aging
25, 2015 - Baby boomers trying to pick the best living arrangements for
themselves or their parents as they age should be wary of a phrase they
coined in their younger years: If it feels good, do it.
So says Stephen Golant, a University of Florida
researcher who studies housing needs for older Americans. In his new
book, “Aging in the Right Place,” Golant argues that the popular notion
of “aging in place” - staying home and being independent as long as
possible - sounds great but doesn’t work for everyone.
Older people sometimes become emotionally attached
to their homes, Golant said, leading them to think it’s the best place
to live out their lives. In fact, he said, these places may lack
activities, features and amenities needed to age successfully.
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As a result, he said, older people increasingly
find they must rely on other people to meet their everyday needs. But
both family members and professionals may fall short as caregivers.
“We need to think about two sets of feelings -- not
just feeling comfortable, but also being in a place where we feel
capable of achieving our everyday needs, from self-care to buying
groceries to reaching doctors, and don’t feel that our lives are
spinning out of control,” said Golant, who has studied older Americans’
housing needs for more than 30 years.
The issue is becoming especially troublesome for
moderate-income elders. Wealthy older people can afford the housing and
services they need to live comfortable and independent lives, he said.
Very low-income people often can benefit from government-funded programs
and services to achieve these same goals -- although, they often
confront waiting lists and bureaucratic obstacles.
Those in the middle, however, often find themselves
outside the safety net of social, long-term care and housing programs
offered by federal, state, and local governments, but cannot afford
products and services offered by the private sector.
Among other points Golant makes in his book:
• Older people with success stories increasingly
live in what are now called “elder villages” – grass-roots, communally
organized neighborhoods or building groups that help them feel more
engaged and enable them to maintain their independence.
• Assisted living facilities are no different from
any consumer product — some are great, and some are awful. Older people
should be discriminating customers.
• The hallmark of successful aging is to be
proactive in planning next steps, rather than waiting until a crisis
• Older people who have poor health, disabilities
or other disadvantages can still have happy lives if they make the right
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