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  • Writer's pictureBangor Daily News

Tips for aging in place



As people approach the later years of their life, one difficult decision they must make is whether to remain in their own home. The rising costs of maintaining a home and decreased mobility are two big reasons why some people decide to relocate to a retirement community or assisted living facility. But most older adults — the AARP reports up to 90 percent — would prefer to “age in place” in the comfort and familiarity of their own home for as long as possible. 


The trick is ensuring you can do so safely and independently.


Local Resources

Fortunately, there are many resources for individuals or couples who choose to age in place. Maine’s five Area Agencies on Aging serve as “one-stop-shops” to answer questions from older adults and individuals with disabilities and their care partners about a wide range of in-home, community-based, and institutional services. 


Lindsay MacDonald is the vice president of Community Engagement for Spectrum Generations, the Central Maine Area Agency on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Center. She said one of the most important things every person should do is pay close attention to their physical and mental health. Having a primary care provider you trust and keeping up with regular exams and screenings are all important for anyone who wants to live independently in their own home.


“Stay active both physically and mentally,” MacDonald said. “Keep your mind sharp. Read different books, practice crossword games, word searches, brain games, etc. Find a hobby you enjoy. If possible, try to get outside daily, even if it’s just standing at the front door and taking in a breath of fresh air.”


Spectrum Generations offers a number of programs to encourage older adults to remain physically and mentally healthy, including fitness classes, health and wellness workshops, foot clinics, health screenings, social activities, and on-site meals, as well as Meals on Wheels. They also provide short-term and long-term personal support services for anyone needing assistance with the activities of daily living. Through a partnership, they also provide in-home emergency response and medication reminder systems to help individuals remain safe at home.


Build a Support System

In addition to paying close attention to their physical and mental health, MacDonald advises older adults to build strong support systems with people who can assist with everyday needs and in difficult times. Friends, family members, and professionals who can lend a helping hand or a listening ear are important.


“Share any concerns with your PCP and your support system,” MacDonald said.  “No detail or concern is too small.”


A Safe Environment

In regard to your physical environment, MacDonald says to ensure that all stairways and ramps have sturdy rails and are clear of tripping hazards. She also recommends keeping household items at a comfortable level.


“Don’t stack things too high or too low,” she said.


Certain modifications, like handicap ramps and bathroom modifications, can also help you remain more safely at home. MacDonald encourages people to contact their local Area Agency on Aging to be connected with resources. Some people may qualify for financial assistance to help with modifications. Visit spectrumgenerations.org for more details. Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, or KVCAP, is one such agency that assists with home modifications through their Community Aging in Place program. Senior Energy, Housing & Community Initiatives Director Monica Grady said the program is meant to assist people 55 and older with minor accommodations needed to remain in their home. A home assessment is conducted to see where they can leverage resources or provide individuals with referrals to other programs that may be of assistance to them.




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