Program News & Webinars

What does it mean to age in place?

Two older adults sitting at home on couch with television remote
September 29, 2023
The WA Cares Fund was designed to help Washington workers stay in their own homes as they age and get the care they need. The program is just one part of the state’s work to promote independence and choice for older adults.

Services and supports to stay at home

Aging in place refers to the ability to live in your own home comfortably and independently as you get older, rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility. For many people, aging in place is associated with a sense of empowerment and dignity. It allows them to maintain their autonomy, control, and familiarity within their own living environment.


According to AARP, almost 80% of older people want to stay in their own home as they age. But to keep living independently, most people will eventually need long-term care – help with activities of daily living like bathing, eating, and taking medications.


Long-term care can be expensive and most of it is not covered by Medicare or health insurance. Medicaid covers long-term care, but in order to qualify financially you must spend your life savings down to just $2,000.


With the WA Cares Fund, Washington workers earn long-term care benefits they can use for a wide range of services and supports, including things to help them stay safely in their own homes – like home modifications, in-home care, meal delivery and more.


Washington’s unique long-term care system

For decades, Washington state has been working to promote independence and choice for older adults who need long-term care. When developing services and supports for older adults, the state has focused on helping people stay in their own homes or in other community-based settings like adult family homes.


In fact, Washington ranks second among all states when it comes to prioritizing home- and community-based services, which make up nearly three quarters of the state’s long-term care spending.


Because our long-term care system is already designed around home- and community-based services, the state has already developed much of the infrastructure for providing those services through WA Cares.


How to age in place

Many factors contribute to successful aging in place, including home accessibility features such as grab bars, ramps and wider doorways. Community support services such as transportation assistance, home health services and social engagement programs also play an essential role in helping you age comfortably at home.


Planning ahead is the first step toward aging in place. Think about what kinds of help you might need in the future and research the resources available in your community. Make sure you know what services and supports are covered by your WA Cares benefits.


You can learn more about planning to age in place from the National Institute on Aging or reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging for help.