Let enough time go by, and your house not only becomes your home, it turns into the only home you can ever imagine having.
But as we get older, staying in your home and aging in place can become increasingly difficult.
The good news is that this isn’t a challenge you have to face on your own. There are ways you can get help, even as you strive to remain independent at home. Here are a few tips for aging in place from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s National Institute on Aging.
Think about the help you will need
“Planning ahead is hard because you never know how your needs might change,” the NIA says. “But, the first step is to think about the kinds of help you might want in the near future.”
We all have different living/family situations, but a good place to start is by considering any long-term or chronic medical conditions you or your spouse might have. Talk to your doctor about how these problems could impact your ability to stay in your home.
What kinds of help are out there?
While you can get a more extensive list of services for seniors from your local Area Agency on Aging, here are a few of the common things people need help with:
- Personal care – Has it gotten harder to get washed and dressed each day? You may be able to find a friend or relative to help, or hire a trained aide.
- Chores – Do you need help with grocery shopping? Many supermarket and drug store chains will take phone or online orders and deliver things to your home, or have your items ready when you arrive. And when it comes to housework, you may be able to hire a cleaning service.
- Meals – Are you dining alone on canned soup and frozen meals? Consider sharing cooking duties with a friend, and look for meals offered by your church or nearby senior center.
What if I need help managing money?
Are you worried about not paying bills on time? Do health insurance forms seem like they’re written in ancient Greek? It may be time to ask a family member you trust for help, or to turn to a financial counselor or geriatric care manager. Again, your Area Agency on Aging branch can help refer you to a counselor to help you.
Check with your bank to find out about online bill payment options so that you won’t need to worry about mailing in regular bills.
Beware of scams. Don’t give out your Social Security number, credit card number or bank account information to anyone over the phone – unless you’re the one who placed the call. Never respond with personal or financial information to an email you’ve received. Email scams are everywhere.
You may also want to decide to give someone your trust permission to discuss your finances, or to handle legal and financial matters through a durable power of attorney.
If you’re finding it harder to remember which medicines to take and when to take them, consider investing in a pill dispenser. You may also want to have someone attend doctor’s visits with you, to make sure you come away with an understanding of what the doctor needs you to do.
And just as there are powers of attorney for financial and legal matters, there is also something called the durable power of attorney for health care, which allows you to designate a health care proxy. This is someone who can make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
Getting around at home
Are you having trouble getting around at home? A walker or an electric scooter might help. These devices are often covered by Medicare.
Are you ready to make this kind of change in your home? Contact Pennsylvania Stair Lifts. We can advise you on installing and maintaining stair lifts and platform lifts, so that you can enjoy your home for as long as possible.
Bottom line, planning ahead and seeking help from family, friends and experts when you need it can significantly extend your ability to stay in your home. We hope these tips for aging in place help make it possible for you to do so.