"There's no place like home," said Dorothy.

At any age.

The senior population, those 65 and above, are growing and will continue to grow at unprecedented rates. The facts are that Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964 are now turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day for the next 18 years AND we are living longer than previous generations (today  65 year olds have a 25 percent chance of living to age 90.)

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But though our life span has increased, unfortunately seniors are still prone to age related and other diseases that at the very least, will eventually require assistance with their activities of daily living (ADLs). Yes, we may be healthier than our grandparents. And we do have better medicine and technology adding to a better quality lifestyle. But the truth remains that as we age so do our bodies and minds.

Unlike yesteryears, more seniors are opting to remain at home today instead of relocating or living out their lives in a nursing home facility - the comforts and familiarity of home and community are preferred. To meet this goal there are many considerations not the least of which is the maintaining a safe environment and an environment in which we can accomodate the eventual need of assistance.

There are a myriad of companies to assist us with "aging in place" safely. A simple walk -through by an informed family member or an experienced eldercare provider can help locate areas of risk in the home. Sometimes, it is simply replacing floor mats, adding more lighting, or moving wires and cords - all to prevent falls, a major cause of senior's hospitalization.

If we need the addition of grab bars in our bathrooms or a ramp to facilitate a walker, companies such as Back Home Safely are able to affordably modify our homes so that we are safer.

The growth of the senior population has also caused a surge in the number of home care agencies opening throughout the country. In New Jersey home care provides certified home health aides (CHHAs) to help individuals when more assistance is needed with daily living activities. Whether on an hourly basis or as live in support, many more people are requiring help with grooming, bathing, dressing, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping or ambulation. Any one or combination of these activities can become increasingly difficult as we grow older and are all necessary functions of living a healthy, quality life.

Despite statistics or needs, aging is a reality, not a phenomena. Especially if we are to continue to remain at home it behooves all of us and our family members to begin taking the steps to assure that our longer lives are healthier and safer.

Larry Aronson

Homewatch Caregivers of Essex, Morris and No. Union Counties