The Secret to Successful Aging in Place
- Prepare your Home for Aging in Place
- Stay active and engaged
- Manage health and wellness
- Pay close attention to your medical care needs.
- Find support for chronic conditions
- Be financially prepared
- Make necessary arrangements for transportation.
- Facilitate legal considerations
- Determine how to get help when needed
For many older adults, the idea of aging in place holds great appeal, as it allows them to maintain their autonomy and stay in the familiar surroundings of their own home. In an AARP survey conducted in 2015, almost 90% of seniors aged 65 and older have a goal to age in the comfort of their own home.
Successfully aging in place requires adept preparation and support. While some people delay the preparation for this crucial transition in life because they think it’s too early, the fact remains that having a plan in place saves you a lot of inconveniences in the future.
So, how can you get ready to gracefully agein place? Let’s explore some steps you can take to stay active and engaged, manage health and wellness, navigate financial considerations, and ultimately achieve a well-balanced aging full of joy and independence.
Prepare your Home for Aging in Place
Making your home accessible
Mobility and physical abilities may change with age. Make sure that your home is accessible and easy to navigate, even if you are using a wheelchair or other mobility device. Some simple modifications that can make a big difference include installing handrails on staircases, adding non-slip mats in the bathroom, and ensuring that doorways and hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair.
Adding safety features
Safety is a top concern for older adults, and there are a number of features that can help to make the home safer. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security systems, and home security cameras can all provide peace of mind. It's also a good idea to install grab bars in the bathroom and shower, as well as handrails on the stairs.
Maintaining your home
Regular maintenance is important for keeping your home in good condition and making it safe and comfortable to live in. This includes tasks such as cleaning gutters, maintaining the heating and cooling system, and checking for leaks or other potential hazards. It's a good idea to create a schedule for home maintenance tasks and tackle them in small increments, or hire a handyman to help with larger projects.
Whether you are just starting to think about aging in place or you have already made the decision, these steps can help you to prepare your home and make it a place where you can live happily and independently for years to come.
Stay active and engaged
Physical activity, social connections, and hobbies and interests can all help older adults maintain their physical and mental health, as well as their sense of purpose and enjoyment in life.
Staying active is essential for maintaining physical function and preventing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Regular exercise can also improve mood, cognitive function, and sleep quality. There are many ways for older adults to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives, such as walking, swimming, or joining a fitness class. Before starting a new exercise program, make sure to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure that it is safe and appropriate.
Social connections are also vital for aging in place. Research has shown that social isolation and loneliness can have negative impacts on health, including increased risk of depression, cognitive decline, and mortality. Older adults can find social connections through activities such as volunteering, joining a club or organization, or spending time with friends and family.
You can also make use of modern technology to stay connected, with many options such as video chat and social media that can serve as a platform for seniors to stay in touch with their family and peers. Hobbies and interests can provide a sense of purpose and enjoyment, and can also be a great way to stay active and engaged. This could include anything from gardening and painting to reading and traveling. Older adults may find that their interests change over time, and it's important to keep an open mind and try new things.
Manage health and wellness
Eating a well-balanced diet is important at any age, but it becomes even more crucial as we get older. A healthy diet can help to prevent or manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and it can also help to maintain a healthy weight and keep energy levels up. Seniors, in particular, have different nutritional needs, so it's important to pay attention to what you eat and drink. Some tips for maintaining a healthy diet as you age in place include:
- Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Choosing lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, or beans
- Limiting saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and salt
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks
Pay close attention to your medical care needs.
Keeping track of your medications, making regular appointments with your healthcare providers, and following their recommendations for screenings and vaccinations are some key steps to make sure you maintain optimum health even as you age.It's also a good idea to have an up-to-date list of your medications, allergies, and medical conditions in case of an emergency.
Find support for chronic conditions
For many older adults, managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis is an ongoing challenge. Finding support and resources to help manage these conditions may include finding a healthcare provider who understands your specific needs, connecting with a support group, or utilizing community resources such as home health agencies or adult day care centers.
Be financially prepared
One of the biggest expenses associated with aging in place is the cost of home modifications, which can include everything from installing ramps or stairlifts to widen doorways or adding grab bars in the bathroom. While these modifications can make a home safer and more accessible for an older adult, they can also come with a significant price tag.
The cost of in-home care or hiring a home health aide can also be a financial burden. These services can provide much-needed support with tasks such as bathing, dressing, and medication management, but they can also be expensive, especially if they are needed on a long-term basis.
Fortunately, there are financial resources and assistance available to help older adults cover the costs of aging in place. Government programs such as Medicaid and the Veterans Administration offer financial assistance for home modifications and in-home care. Long-term care insurance can also help cover the cost of aging in place, although these policies can be expensive and may not cover all expenses.
Make necessary arrangements for transportation.
Transportation can be a major challenge for older adults who are no longer able to drive or have limited mobility. With the onset of our golden years, it becomes increasingly important to have reliable and safe transportation options to access medical appointments, run errands, and participate in social activities. Without a car or access to transportation, older adults may become isolated and face difficulties in maintaining their independence.
There are several options for getting around when you can no longer drive or have limited mobility, including the following:
Many cities and towns have bus or train systems that can provide a convenient way to get around. However, public transportation can be intimidating or difficult to navigate for some older adults, especially those who are new to using it or who have physical limitations. Research the routes and schedules in advance and to consider using assistive devices, such as a cane or a folding wheelchair, if needed.
Hire a driver
This could be a professional service, such as a taxi or ride-sharing service, or it could be a family member, friend, or neighbor who is willing to provide transportation on a regular basis. Hiring a driver can be a convenient and flexible option, but it can also be expensive, especially if you need to use it frequently. It's important to carefully consider the cost and to have a plan in place for emergencies or unexpected events.
No matter which transportation option you choose, it’s a good move to have a reliable transportation plan in place so even as you age, you can maintain your independence and continue to participate in the activities that are important to you.
Facilitate legal considerations
Making sure that your wishes and desires are clearly stated and legally recognized can ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions independently, whether due to illness, injury, or other unforeseen circumstances. Here are some legal documents you should consider preparing in advance:
A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets and property to be distributed after you pass away. It's an important tool for ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of and that your wishes are followed. If you do not have a will, your assets may be distributed according to the laws of your state, which may not align with your wishes.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person the authority to act on your behalf in financial and legal matters. This can be particularly useful if you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or injury. There are two main types of power of attorney: durable and non-durable. A durable power of attorney remains in effect if you become incapacitated, while a non-durable power of attorney is only valid while you are still able to make decisions for yourself.
This document outlines your wishes for medical treatment in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself, and setting up a trust, which can be useful for managing assets and minimizing taxes.
Preparing these documents can be complex, so it's important to seek the guidance of an attorney to ensure that your documents are properly drafted and legally binding. The peace of mind that these documents provide is invaluable, as they can ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are taken care of in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Determine how to get help when needed
You may experience changes in your health and mobility with age, and as time progresses, you may require extra support. Whether it's help with daily tasks like bathing and dressing, or more specialized medical care, getting the assistance you need can be crucial for successfully aging in place. But how do you know when it's time to seek help, and where can you turn for support?
Here are some tips for identifying when extra support is needed, and finding in-home care options and community resources to help you age in place successfully.
Identifying when extra support is necessary:
Pay attention to your daily routines and activities. Do you have difficulty completing tasks that were once easy, like bathing, dressing, or cooking? Are you struggling to keep up with housekeeping or home maintenance? These may be signs that you could benefit from some extra help.
Consider your social connections. Do you have a support system of family, friends, and neighbors who can provide assistance with errands, transportation, and companionship? If not, it may be time to start building those connections.
Monitor your health and wellness. Are you having trouble remembering to take your medications, or are you experiencing changes in your health that are affecting your ability to live independently? It may be time to consider in-home care options or other support services.
Finding in-home care options:
Research your options. There are many types of in-home care services available, from non-medical assistance with daily tasks to more specialized medical care. Look into the different types of services available in your area and decide which ones would be most beneficial for your needs.
Get referrals from your healthcare provider. Your doctor or other healthcare provider may be able to recommend in-home care agencies or individuals who can provide the type of care you need.
Consider hiring a caregiver privately. If you prefer to hire someone privately, consider using a service like Care.com or HomeInstead.com to find a caregiver who meets your needs.
Utilizing community resources:
Look into government programs. If you are struggling to pay for in-home care or other expenses, there may be government programs available to help. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to learn about programs that can assist with in-home care, transportation, and other services.
Check out local senior centers and community organizations. Many communities have senior centers or other organizations that offer social and recreational activities, transportation services, and other resources for older adults. These can be great places to find support and make connections with others.
Take advantage of technology. There are many apps and online resources available that can help you stay connected, get help when needed, and access a variety of services. Consider using tools like Skype or Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends, or apps like CareZone or Medisafe to help manage medications and healthcare appointments.
Getting the support you need to age in place successfully is crucial for maintaining your independence and quality of life. By paying attention to your needs, researching your options, and utilizing community resources, you can find the help you need to live your golden years to the fullest.
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