Want to age in place? Learn about home care services in my review here that can help you maintain your independence and stay at home for longer.
While it may be hard to accept, most of us will require some type of care assistance after the age of 65. You may be used to handling everything yourself, dividing up duties with your spouse, or relying on family members for minor help around the home. But as you get older and your circumstances change, getting around and taking care of yourself can become more and more difficult. If the idea of moving to a retirement community, assisted living facility, or nursing home doesn’t appeal, home care services may be able to help keep you living in your own home for longer.
Home care services include:
Household maintenance. Keeping a household running smoothly takes a lot of work. If you’re finding it hard to keep up, you can look into laundry, shopping, gardening, housekeeping, and handyman services. If you’re having trouble staying on top of bills and appointments, financial and healthcare management may also be helpful.
Transportation. Transportation is a key issue for older adults. Maybe you’re finding it hard to drive or don’t like to drive at night. Having access to trains, buses, rideshare apps, reduced fare taxis, and senior transportation services can help prolong your independence and maintain your social network.
Home modifications. If your mobility is becoming limited, home modifications can go a long way towards keeping your existing residence comfortable and accessible. Modifications can include things such as grab bars in the shower, ramps to avoid or minimize the use of stairs, or even installing a new bathroom on the ground floor.
Personal care. Help with the activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, or meal preparation, is called personal or custodial care. Home health aides can provide personal care services that range from a few hours a day to around-the-clock live-in care. They may also provide limited assistance with things such as taking blood pressure or offering medication reminders.
Health care. Some healthcare 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 cost out of pocket. Hospice care can also be provided at home.
Day programs. Day programs or adult daycare can help you keep busy with activities and socialization during the day, while providing a break for your caregivers. Some daycare programs are primarily social, while others provide limited health services or specialize in disorders such as early stage Alzheimer’s.
Is aging in place right for you?
It’s natural to want to stay at home as you grow older. The familiar can be comforting as we face the losses that inevitably come with aging, and your home is likely filled with fond memories and your neighborhood with familiar people. However, taking a step back to look at the big picture can help you decide whether staying at home for the long term truly is the right step for you. Too often, decisions to leave home are made abruptly after a sudden loss or health crisis, making adjustments all the more painful and difficult. Earlier planning and examining which home care services are available can make it easier to make the choice that’s right for both you and your family.
Of course, everyone’s needs vary, depending on factors such as how much support you have, your general health and mobility, and your financial situation. Here are some of the issues to consider when evaluating your aging in place and home care options:
Location and accessibility. Where is your home located? Are you in a rural or suburban area that requires a lot of driving? If you’re in an area with more public transit, is it safe and easily accessible? How much time does it take you to get to services such as shopping or medical appointments? It’s also important to consider proximity to community services and activities.
Home accessibility and maintenance. Is your home easily modified? Does it have a lot of steps or a steep hill to access? Do you have a large yard that needs to be maintained?
Support available. Do you have family and friends nearby? How involved are they? Are they able to provide you the support you need? Many older adults prefer to rely on family to provide help, but as your needs increase, they might not be able to fill in all of the gaps. Caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially if it is primarily on one person such as a spouse or child. Your relationships may be healthier if you are open to the idea of getting help from more than one source.
Isolation. If it becomes difficult or impossible for you to leave home without help, isolation can rapidly set in. You may not be able to participate in hobbies you once loved, stay involved in community service that kept you motivated, or visit with friends and family. Losing these connections and support is a recipe for depression.
Medical conditions. No one can predict the future. However, if you or your spouse has a chronic medical condition that is expected to worsen over time, it’s especially important to think about how you will handle health and mobility problems. What are common complications of your condition, and how will you handle them?
Finances. Making a budget with anticipated expenses can help you weigh the pros and cons of your situation. Alternate arrangements like assisted living can be expensive, but extensive in-home help can rapidly become expensive as well, especially at higher levels of care and live-in or 24-hour coverage.
Your family’s opinions. Naturally, you have the final decision as to where you want to live, but input from family members can be helpful. Are they worried about your safety or a health problem that will eventually require heavy care? Listening to concerns and keeping an open mind are key.