Your Golden Years and Aging In Place - Resources and Ideas
The aging process is never easy. Sure, questions arise about hearing loss and the occasional memory lapses. However, more serious concerns can arise. Can the person live in their home safely and on their own? Should a long-term facility be a consideration? Fortunately, there are guidelines, often referred to as Aging in Place standards, that can be used to ensure that an individual can remain living in their home.
With Aging in Place standards, a person needs to meet certain qualifications. These include being 60 years old or older, and have the ability to live on their own safely, or manage with support from a caregiver.
When establishing a safe living environment for the individual, simple home modifications and new technologies can make living in one's home longer, a real possibility. Many home modifications tend to be easy and relatively inexpensive to implement. Such ideas include grab bars in the bathroom and replacing door and sink handles that are easier to use. Also installing light fixtures at the top and bottom of stairs can be simple modifications that can be accomplished with minimal time and effort. Placing no-slip strips can reduce the risk of falling in certain areas, and is a huge concern for the Aging in Place community, as well as for the family members of the individual.
While physical modifications may be the major issues people first think about, other considerations can and should be in the planning process. For instance, during the aging process, people may not have the stamina to do the typical household tasks like cooking, cleaning, and running errands. Fortunately, home health agencies have employees who can assist with these tasks.
Along with having agencies that could provide physical assistance, technological devices are available, so that individuals can remain in their own home with minimal help from the outside world. A working example of this is a smart home hub that uses Alexa. With this technology, the person can use this as a personal alarm or a smartwatch. Consider the following example as the system in action. An elderly person or someone with a mental disability could live by themselves and with this technology, their caregiver or the proper authority can be notified if the person has fallen or has gotten out of the designated areas allowable in their circumstances. Another technology that can be used for people with more mobility is similar to an emergency button in the home, except with this device, it has GPS functionality built-in. So, if an elderly person has the capability of being more mobile, the individual can take this device with them with the assurance that if an emergency arises, help can be there within minutes with a touch of a button!
Transportation is another consideration as an individual ages. Perhaps, the person‘s driving abilities have diminished due to physical or mental impairment. That should not prevent them from going into the community for medical or social reasons. Even as people age, it is still important to stay active in the community, and fortunately, programs exist for these situations. For example, in major cities wheelchair accessible buses and taxis are available. Also, there may be volunteer escort services to accompany a person to a doctor’s appointment or to go to the grocery store! To learn more about elderly resources in your community, feel free to visit https://eldercare.acl.gov or call 1-800-677-1116.
Money management is yet another huge concern, not only for an elderly person, but also for the people assisting them in making important financial decisions. These concerns can range from ensuring monthly bills are paid on time, knowing the amounts the individual receives every month won't hurt their Social Security benefits, and determining which individuals have access to the person’s financial resources. Along with having one or two people knowing their financial resources, it may be beneficial to have geriatrics case managers, who are professionals that specialize in managing financial transactions for the older population.
The aging process can be scary, and at times depressing, but it doesn't have to be that way. Programs, for Aging in Place, solely exists to help elderly people stay in their homes and the community for as long as possible. Their main focus is to ensure that the home is as safe as possible. They also aim to ensure that the individual’s everyday needs (cooking, cleaning, and social needs) are met too. So, when making life-long plans in the older years, be sure to include Aging in Place programs! After all, the golden years should have little to no worries, right?
If you reside in Indiana and are looking for resources, you can also call your local AAA (Area Agency on Aging). They have a tremendous grasp on what is available in the area. We have a list with contact information HERE.