Aging in Place: Aging with Grace

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Can I age in place? As the baby boomer generation ages, many older Americans are asking themselves this very question. Unfortunately, many of our elderly population are finding they have to leave their homes to receive necessary care in their latter years, giving up their independence and self-empowerment along the way. This forced relocation can cause significant stress not only on the individual but also on friends and family members who love them.

Clarity, a division of Plantronics and the leading innovator and supplier of creative solutions to people with hearing loss, released the results to a research study conducted in late 2007 that took a closer look at aging in place. The study examined the attitudes and anxieties of the nation's aging population. Clarity interviewed senior citizens and baby boomer children to understand the perspectives of both older Americans and their caretakers.

The study found the vast majority of seniors (89%) want to age in place-or grow older without having to move from their homes-but more than half (53%) were concerned about their ability to do so. Seniors cited health and memory problems and the inability to drive as reasons they may have to move from home.

Why are so many seniors worried about leaving their homes? According to Clarity's study, one reason could be the fear of nursing homes. In one of the most eye-opening findings of the study, Clarity found that senior citizens fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than death.

It is clear that one of the most difficult decisions a family faces is placing a family member in a nursing home. The study found that 82 percent of boomers interviewed fear their parents will be mistreated in a nursing home, and 89 percent fear their parents will be sad. Many families consider the option of keeping their loved ones at home with good at home care. Having the support or assisted living and help from associations such as AARP with home and auto insurance specific to your needs are a great way to avoid those common fears of living in a nursing home.

According to Clarity's president Carsten Trads, these results show that Americans must make aging in place a priority for seniors, "As a society, we must find ways to help our parents and grandparents live their latter years at home."

Technology might be the answer. Clarity's study looked at technology as a means to enable greater independence in seniors. Over 65% said that they are open to new technologies to help them age in place while 54% of seniors would be open to sensors in their homes to allow monitoring of their health and safety. Several companies, like Clarity, are currently developing products-communication devices, personal monitoring systems, medication reminders-that could play pivotal roles in the home of the future. However, the study found that only 14% of boomers have turned to technology so clearly this is untapped resource.

What's this tell us? It's crucial for seniors and boomers to understand the available resources that will allow aging in place for as long as possible, making life safer and more comfortable. More organizations must join Clarity in the movement to allow the elderly to maintain their pride and independence and ultimately age in place.

Clarity®, a Division of Plantronics Inc. (NYSE:PLT), offers communications solutions to the world's aging population. A leading innovator and provider of creative solutions, Clarity's patented technologies, Clarity® Power™ and Digital Clarity Power™, provide customized solutions for customers who otherwise could not communicate easily and effectively with the outside world. As the world's population grows older, Clarity will continue to provide effective technologies to allow seniors to age in place and maintain their dignity and independence.

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