Choosing where to live their elder years is not an issue for many of the seniors of today and tomorrow. The reality is that our parents and grandparents, or at least most of them, want to stay put!
Many of our senior loved ones are making it known they want to live out their lives in the home they’ve loved for many years-where they raised their children, made lifelong friends and forged community ties.
Our challenge, however, to making that dream a true reality is what will it take to make that happen? Some of the answers are easy but others are not. Some of the strategies for success are in our hands while others are completely out of our hands.
Barriers to Aging in Place
- Our senior loved ones’ health, physical function, and mobility will be areas where we have little control except for efforts at prevention. Once they become frail, their living choices often become more limited.
- If our senior’s home is not accessible for the long run, the house may not currently be aging-friendly. There may be changes you can make, both small and big, to the existing structure to allow it to meet your senior’s needs. A note of caution here – it may be easier, more cost effective, and safer to find a new more suitable home for aging in place. This might involve moving closer to the family caregivers or in a smaller, easier to maintain dwelling.
- Access to healthcare, essential needs such as food and supplies, and the transportation system to get them here and there may be lacking. This is something totally out of your control for a given location and may require a relocation to get closer to those vital services our seniors need as they age in place.
An Aging in Place Wish List
- A senior who can be close to the family caregivers. If all other variables are acceptable and desirable but your senior is not close to you, then getting a network of caregivers established is going to prove essential. These could be friends, other family members, church friends, area agencies, and home health providers.
- A strong, dependable support system for you as a family caregivers of a senior aging in place. Caregivers need help and respite in order to provide care for the long term. Having support for tasks not only required of your senior but also yourself, such as taking care of your own children, cutting your grass when you are busy with your senior loved one, etc. all take a support system to be successful. You can build on your current system and guide your family and friends in what you need to make it even stronger. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and tell others what you need!
- A caring compassionate healthcare team in close proximity. A team with whom it’s easy to communicate and who will give you information and guidance to meet the needs of your senior loved one.
- In-home technology to help stay connected with your senior and to make their aging in place experience safer. A computer system that is easy for your senior to use that will handle finances, bills, essential documents, and family connections. In the near future it may be essential to their healthcare and an asset in the control of the systems of their home.
- Public transportation that is accessible to your senior, especially if you are a long distance caregiver. This could keep them in their beloved home longer when they become unable to drive themselves to the grocery store, beauty shop or doctor.
- Clear guidance on the wishes of your senior if they become unable to age in place or face extreme healthcare measures. Where would they like to go in the future? You could even visit some options together now and make a list of situations that are found to be acceptable. What heroic measures do they want or not want and are their advance directives executed in case of an emergency? We recommend the FIVE WISHES as a tool to help seniors and their caregivers make decisions and desires known for all involved. Be sure everyone in the family knows what those wishes are and has a copy.
We have just begun this list and know there are many items that can be added. Every family has individual wishes that they would like fulfilled.
We would love to hear from you with your wishes to add to the list!