Aging in place, staying at home
Most people prefer to stay in their home or apartment for as long as possible. The best way to make this a reality is to plan ahead of time to make the amenities in your home as safe and accessible as possible.
It can be hard to imagine that tasks around the house that were once done with ease can one day pose a challenge. Anticipating the challenge and planning accordingly may allow you to remain in your home for an extended period of time.
Often, with some minor modifications, your home can be adapted to help you stay as long as possible even with some loss of mobility.
Living at home longer may mean renovating a home to make it more accessible. This can include such things as installing ramps to bypass stairs, building a bedroom on the main floor, placing grab bars in the shower, changing the height of kitchen countertops or making a bathroom safer and more accessible. Before you make home modifications, you should evaluate your current and future needs by going through your home room by room and answering a series of questions to highlight where changes might be made. Several checklists are available to help you conduct this review. The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications is a good place to start. Go to the center’s website at http://www.homemods.org and click on the link to the “Safety Checklist and Assessment Instrument.”
Keeping a house running smoothly requires a lot of hard work. If you are no longer able to keep up with the demands, you may need to hire someone to do laundry, buy groceries, run errands, clean the house or perform any necessary repairs. Those who are unable to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, dressing, and eating, can often continue to stay at home with outside help. There are a number of services that can be brought in to assist with ADLs and other personal care. You can hire someone, such as a personal care aide or home health aide, to help you out a few hours a day or around the clock.
Some health care services can be provided at home by trained professionals, such as occupational therapists, social workers or home health nurses. Check with your insurance or health service to see what kind of coverage is available, although you may have to cover some of these costs out of pocket. If very specific conditions are met, Medicare will help pay for all or a portion of home health care.
Declining health often causes a decline in independence and mobility. Many seniors lose the ability to drive or simply feel uncomfortable behind the wheel at night. Investigate transportation options in your area so you can maintain an active social life, get medical care and shop for necessities. You might find family members willing to take you to the grocery store, friends who will drive you to social events, nearby bus routes, reduced fare taxis or senior transportation services funded by a local not-for-profit. Staying in your home should not mean being cut off from community activities you enjoy. Finding new ways to get around, even after you are no longer driving, may allow you to stay engaged and active.