Aging in Place and Choosing Care When Needed: A Resource List
by Michelle Seitzer, SeniorsforLiving.com
Who doesn’t want to age in place? Only about 10 percent of seniors, according to AARP research, which states that nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay home as they age. This overwhelming majority is not just indicative of what the healthy and independent want; the AARP survey also says that 82 percent of seniors would like to stay home even if they needed ongoing health care or daily assistance.
Anyone who is caring for or concerned about a senior relative is probably not surprised by these numbers. However, aging in place isn’t always as easy, or safe, as it sounds. Arguments may erupt when a caregiver’s concerns about safety conflict with the senior’s desire for independence. The good news? There are options.
Consider these suggestions that allow for aging in place as long as possible:
- Set up the home for success. Remove clutter (that includes loose rugs and carpets that pose a serious trip-and-fall risk) and streamline the rooms that are used most often. Move furniture if you have to, and find ways to minimize the need to use the stairs. Home modifications range from simple to complex. While those on the complex end may be expensive, the monthly cost of assisted living care is often greater in the long run. Learn more about how to modify your home using the latest aging in place techniques.
- Communicate and check-in often. Ask the individual how things are going — not in a nagging way, or in too general a way. Specific questions like “what did you have for dinner last night?” or “how much mail did you get?” gives more insight into how successfully your loved one is managing basic daily tasks, rather than simply asking, “How are you?” Use Skype, FaceTime, and other easy-to-use tech tools as a way of “seeing” the individual (and their environment) when checking in. Learn more about useful technology can make caregiving easier.
- Get help. Bring in home care, hire a housekeeper, delegate tasks to family members and friends, coordinate visits from volunteers. These are a few ways to extend the amount of time that your loved one can stay home safely and successfully, and give you as the caregiver the peace of mind you need.
When the care needs are too great, when the individual cannot manage safely alone, or when loneliness and isolation become an issue, consult these resources for choosing the best setting or services for the person in your care:
- Plan for the kind of care he or she wants. Refer to this Elder Care Planning Resource Guide to choose the best option for your family’s budget and care preferences.
- Tour the senior living community/evaluate the home care agency. Once you have settled on assisted living, independent living, or home care, make a list of your top three choices. Schedule appointments to tour the facilities in person, or call the home care provider to ask questions. Ask trusted relatives, friends or healthcare providers for their recommendations. Get senior living touring tips and a list of questions to ask when evaluating assisted living communities.
Michelle Seitzer spent 10 years filling various roles at assisted living communities in Pennsylvania and Maryland, then worked as a public policy coordinator for the PA Alzheimer’s Association before settling down as a full-time freelance writer. Seitzer also served as a long-distance caregiver for her beloved grandfather, who died of complications from Alzheimer’s in 2009. She has blogged for SeniorsforLiving.com, which provides information on assisted living, home care, and Alzheimer’s care, since November 2008, and is the co-moderator of the first #ElderCareChat on Twitter, held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m. EST. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.