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Parents choosing to stay in their homes for as long as they can is becoming far more common these days. A study conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) indicates that 87% of adults in the United States aged 65 and older intend to remain in their current homes as they advance in age. While this most certainly eases the pressure on healthcare facilities, it does raise some concerns related to safety, mobility, and affordability. However, for adult children, many strategies can be utilized to meet the wishes of those parents who just want to age in the comfort of their home. In this article, we will take a closer look at a handful of these ways to prepare for this situation.
Although it may appear to be less expensive to age at home instead of in a care home setting, it depends entirely on the level of care the parents require. To properly determine which option is the most affordable, it is a good idea to meet with a care home provider and discuss the costs of remaining at home or moving to a facility. Aging in the home may require some renovations to accommodate changes as their care needs evolve. Plus, if parents do end up living in their home for several years, home care may become necessary. These costs should also be factored into the decision to age at home or to move to a facility in a few years.
Even if the parents are quite mobile at this time, it is important to plan for the possibility of changes related to how they can move about in and around the home. This could mean renovations to accommodate a wheelchair with wider hallways, grab bars, and wheelchair-accessible spaces. If the home has an upstairs or a basement, the renovations may require the addition of a home elevator. The goal is to make movement within the home easy and safe as parents get older and have difficulty going from one part of their home to another.
Emergencies can happen and they come in many different ways ranging from natural disasters to such in-home situations as a parent falling and being unable to reach a telephone or yell to get assistance. This is why it is important to have emergency supplies available. The US Department of Homeland Security suggests building an emergency kit containing clean drinking water, non-perishable food for three days, a flashlight with batteries, a first aid kit, a mask and gloves, and extra medications for any parent with a prescription in place. Plus, all important documents should be stored safely for easy access when needed.
The regular activities of parents may change over time. This is why it is good to be prepared for this. Activities such as eating, dressing, bathing, and just moving around may eventually be impacted by circumstances. Examining the present activities of parents will provide a baseline to measure from and assess changes. If meals become a chore, there are alternative services that can assist. A home care professional may be required to help with dressing and bathing needs. By knowing what may change over time and having a plan in place, transitioning should be smooth and without issue as a result of proper planning.
Even if the parents choosing to stay in their home are not very tech-savvy, smart home technology can make things a bit easier on them. Examples may include security systems, video doorbells, smart lighting for dark entryways and halls, smart smoke detectors that also alert family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers, smart emergency contact systems that summon help when a fall or other medical emergency is detected, and sensors on doors and windows that send alerts when they have been left open. With these types of tools, aging in place can be a lot safer and more secure.
One of the more effective healthcare strategies in helping parents to age in place is keeping them physically fit. Not only will they be able to maintain bones, joint, and muscle strength by doing regular exercise, but there are other benefits as well. Physical activity helps with memory strength, helps to fight depression, combats dementia and other mental issues. How parents get that exercise is also important. If they currently go for frequent walks, that is a good start. Over time it may be wise to integrate such things as online exercise classes, and online chats with grandchildren to play simple word games to keep the mind sharp.
Aging in place does require some level of care and it is important to know what the options are to address needs as they arise. For example, it may be effective to have a professional housekeeper drop in once a week or more frequently to assist with various cleaning chores. Meal delivery once or twice a day may be an option that will ensure proper nutritional needs are being met. There may be a need for transportation to and from appointments or someone to call the parental home to check and make sure that daily medications have been taken. There are so many care options available to assist parents in aging in place.
Aging in place should not be viewed as a dangerous way for seniors to live. No requirement forces seniors to leave their family home and move into a care facility if they are healthy enough to stay home. With more seniors opting to age in place, there are ways to make their final years far more enjoyable and comfortable, provided their circumstances warrant remaining at home. The strategies noted above can contribute to improving the quality of life of those individuals who decide to age in place.