It’s easy to understand why most people would want to remain living in their own home, even as they move into old age. Your home is your space — where you feel most comfortable. But for some, aging in place may require added assistance around the house, and eventually living at home may no longer be an option due to excessive care needs.
How do you know when extra help is needed around the house or when moving to a senior living facility should be discussed? Start by taking note of the following areas and asking these questions about your loved one:
Home layout and conditions. Is the home safe and free of repairs? Do they have to navigate stairs inside or outside the home?
It may just be that a few modifications to a senior’s home and lifestyle are necessary to keep them safe and comfortable (see the next section for tips on safe-proofing a home for seniors). But if extra help or a move to a new location seems prudent, start the conversation with the person being affected first to ensure they still feel in control.
Continuing to live at home through old age is easier than ever before, thanks to advancements in technology. Whether family caregivers want to connect with their loved one over video chat, schedule medication reminders or monitor for falls, there’s now an app or device for that. Apps are also a great place to start to check in on a senior’s nutrition and fitness. Eating healthy and staying active may look different as someone ages — as they require smaller portion sizes and less activity than a child or middle-aged adult likely would — but proper eating and movement are still vital to overall wellness at any age.
For seniors who want to continue to live at home, some level of modifications around the home are likely necessary, even if they are just minor adjustments to start. To determine what might need to be changed, start with an assessment of any fall hazards or things that might no longer be easy to access. Consider hiring a professional such as an occupational therapist to do a thorough walk-through of a senior’s home and make recommendations for modifications.
Check these areas where injuries commonly occur for hazards:
Like staying in your own home, driving is a means of independence and autonomy. But there may come a time when driving becomes too dangerous due to declining health. Taking medications with strong side effects or having a health condition such as dementia or severe arthritis may be cause to check a senior’s driving. If you can, go for a ride with them, and at a minimum, keep an eye out for any unexplained scratches or dents on the car. No one wants to be the bearer or enforcer of bad news, but it may be necessary in these instances.
If that’s the case, there are ways to go about having a conversation about giving up the car keys to make it as easy as possible on everyone. Experts suggest planning ahead to choose the best person and time for the conversation, as well as using specific examples of times when you were concerned about your loved one behind the wheel.
Additionally, make sure to offer various alternatives for getting around. Common options include: