If you have an elderly parent or loved one, you know how difficult it can be to talk about plans for care in the future. It’s something many elderly people don’t want to discuss, especially if they are worried they will have to move into a care facility. The good news is that there are many options available to consider before taking that step.
Most seniors prefer the idea of aging in place, especially in light of the increased risk of COVID-19. If this is an option you are considering, you may have some concerns about how to help your loved one remain safe and healthy at home. Here are some important things to consider as you make your decision.
What Is Aging In Place?
The concept of aging in place includes creating an intentional plan to help your mom or dad maintain independence at home for as long as possible. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, there are four significant challenges to achieving this goal: accessibility in the home, long-term care provisions, housing affordability, and isolation.
Setting aside housing costs (which vary considerably based on an individual family’s circumstances), most seniors will have to deal with the other three challenges at some point. As your family member gets older, he or she may find it more difficult to navigate stairs, get in and out of the tub, maintain personal hygiene, and other necessary tasks. Isolation is also an increasing problem if your loved one can no longer drive and does not have family or friends close by.
Common Concerns About Aging in Place
Helping your loved one age in place safely and successfully means taking a close look at common concerns that arise in these situations and establishing a plan to work through them together.
Here are some things to consider:
- Home Safety - By far the greatest risk of injury to seniors with limited mobility is falling. More than 25% of seniors over the age of 65 fall every year, and one in five of those sustains a serious injury. You can help reduce your loved one’s risk by ensuring that safety hazards are removed from the home and by making home modifications where necessary.
- Entrance Accessibility - Many homes have a step or two up into the entryway. This is even more common in apartment buildings and condos, where many older people choose to live to eliminate yard work and maintenance. If possible, consider adding a ramp to the entrance so your loved one doesn’t have to navigate the steps. If you are in the process of choosing a condo or apartment, try to find one that has few or no steps into the entrance.
- Caregiving Needs - While your family member may be completely independent now, that could change in the future. Eventually, they may need help with mobility, personal care, medication reminders, and other daily needs. Be sure to make a list of people you can call on to help if the need arises. For example, can family members and friends provide all the necessary care, or will you need to work with a caregiver?
- Isolation - If your elderly family member loses the ability to drive, he or she can quickly become isolated from the people they normally interact with. This has been an even greater issue in light of COVID-19. Family members can help by making sure they stay in regular contact with senior loved ones and by helping them get out of the house on occasion. For example, set up FaceTime visits with the grandkids, take a walk around the neighborhood, and be sure to call regularly.
- Health Emergencies - A medical emergency such as a fall, stroke, or heart attack could accelerate your timeline for providing care assistance. Talk to your loved one about this possibility ahead of time, and make sure everyone agrees on how needs will be addressed.
What Are the Benefits of Aging in Place?
Of course, aging in place has many positive aspects. Most seniors value their independence and would choose to remain in their own home if at all possible. There are a number of benefits to this if it’s possible for your family, including improved quality of life, fewer risk of infectious disease (such as COVID-19), and cost savings as compared with a care facility.
In addition, remaining at home provides many mental health benefits for seniors. The familiar environment and routines, community of neighbors and friends, and family memories associated with home cannot be replicated in a facility. This must be balanced with the risk of isolation discussed above, but if family, friends, and professional aides can come together to stay in contact with seniors, the benefits of remaining independent at home can be significant.
How Cherished Companions Can Help
If aging in place sounds like the right option for your family, you may need some assistance with certain aspects of your loved one’s care. Here are a few of the ways a caregiver can support aging in place:
- Health and Safety
- Personal Care
- Assistance with Activities of Daily Living
- Meal Preparation
Cherished Companions places the highest priority on the health and safety of clients and caregivers. We follow careful safety protocols to protect your loved one from health risks, and we can help you devise a plan that meets the unique needs of your family member.
For further questions, to request resources, or to inquire about getting or becoming a caregiver, contact Cherished Companions today on our website or call (440) 484-5390!