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Aging in place
Karissa Winkel
Karissa Winkel

Most people value independence and enjoy a sense of control in life, and as we grow older, this doesn’t change. In fact, the desire to stay at home and live independently may increase with age. A typical older adult has lived independently for years, served as a caregiver, and has a sentimental connection with their home. After decades of creating the life they’ve worked for, many folks don’t want their lifestyle to change due to age. You may resonate with the fear of reliance as you grow older, but careful planning can help you successfully age in place.

First, prepare to stay in your home by setting yourself up for success. Studies show that people who cultivate social connections, volunteer, engage in moderate physical activity, and maintain a healthy diet protect their well-being. A person’s health condition can impact quality of life. In turn, this can influence your ability to live independently. Taking control of modifiable lifestyle factors now, can empower you to take care of yourself later.

Another important factor of aging in place is to acknowledge your assistance level. Successfully maintaining independence requires honesty. You may need to assess your ability to complete daily activities and your level of safety at home. Accepting help from family, friends, or a formal caregiver who can assist with daily activities can prevent injury and other accidents. Some help may sustain your ability to live at home and prevent the need for full-time assistance.

Make your home accessible. You spend most of your time at home, so make sure it’s a safe space. Increase lighting, remove floor clutter, and rearrange furniture to open up the flow of traffic. Also, consider installing grab bars in bathrooms and repairing uneven walking surfaces. Ensuring a safe environment can prevent accidents and protect overall health.

Aging is inevitable but welcoming the transitions of life can prolong independence. It can encourage you to care for your body and mind, accept your health circumstances, and prepare you to make your home a safer place. These are just a few ways that can help you realistically age in place.

Karissa Winkel is the family and community wellness agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. Contact her at 620-793-1910 or