For most seniors, aging while in the comfort of their own homes is of the utmost importance. In fact, an AARP survey found almost 90 percent of people over age 65 want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, and 80 percent believe their current residence is where they will always live.
With some thought and planning, most seniors can age in place. Experienced home care providers can help by offering advice and services to make it easier for patients to stay at home.
- There are financial advantages There are good reasons for staying in one’s home. First, it is usually less expensive than moving to an assisted-living community, according to information from Fidelity Investments. In addition to the costs of moving and an entrance fee, the monthly payments for room and board at a senior care facility can easily top $3,000.
- Social and psychological needs are critical
Just as important as the financial benefits are the psychological payoffs of remaining near one’s established community of friends, medical professionals and faith community. Social connections and a social support network are vital components of healthy aging. Caregivers need to ensure that individuals choosing to age at home maintain these connections.
“Isolation can be a stumbling block to aging well. And it can creep up slowly,” writes Jeff Dailey, CEO of Senior.com. “No matter how safe the inside of a home is, if there isn’t enough interaction with a community, a plan can fall apart.”
- Home modifications should be considered In order for older adults to remain in their homes, accommodations are often needed to make the home environment suitable for changing needs. A comprehensive list for assessing home considerations is available at seniorresource.com. The primary concerns relate to safety and convenience. Because falls in the home are the leading contributor to injuries and deaths among the elderly, eliminating hazards that can cause falls is of primary importance.
- Small area rugs pose a danger. If you don’t want to remove them, add rubber gripper backing that can be found at most local hardware stores.
- Make sure stairs, hallways and other passage areas are unobstructed.
- Whenever possible, eliminate steps or replace them with ramps.
- In the bathroom, consider changing walk-in showers to a zero-clearance shower—one with no threshold or step to negotiate, according to home improvement site BobVilla.com.
- Stairways can be safer by the addition of handrails on both sides and not just one. Handrails on the front porch or inside the garage can make access easier.
- Doorway thresholds can be removed to allow for easier movement with a walker or wheelchair. Some doorways might also need to be widened.
- Improved lighting outside and inside the home can improve safety and often can be achieved by simply switching to higher wattage bulbs.
- Bending, sitting and standing can all be challenging for seniors, depending on individual difficulties. Raised toilets, lower counters and shallow sinks are examples of things that can make daily life (and independence) easier.
- Round knobs on faucets, doors and such can be replaced with lever handles so that those with arthritis can more easily turn them on and off.
- Be realistic and plan ahead Home adaptations and modifications are easiest to do when there is no pressure to accomplish these changes in a hurry. However, many people wait until the situation becomes critical before they begin the process. Preparing ahead can afford time and finances to get things done the way the patient wants them, which allows them to move easily into that stage of life with fewer worries and cares.
- Enlist professional home care Even in a home that has been customized and adapted, many elderly patients still need regular or occasional assistance. Professional home health care organizations can provide clinical and nonclinical in-home care services to help seniors remain safe, independent and empowered in their homes.