As seniors age they are making important decisions regarding their long-term care. They may choose to stay at home and “age in place,” rather than be moved to a nursing home or assisted living facility when faced with life changing disabilities. Choosing to remain in their own home gives people a sense of security and comfort. They are in familiar surroundings and being at home will allow them to maintain personal relationships with friends and family as well as social and spiritual connections to their community. Although this sounds like the way to age gracefully and independently, the right planning needs to happen in order to ensure comfort and safety at home. Sometimes the planning isn’t enough when we assess physical and cognitive safety. We must remember that we cannot just promise our loved one will always be able to stay home. There are going to be factors that come to play that we have to continue to assess.
Falls are the number one cause of home injuries and fatalities among the aging population. We must consider this fact when assessing an elderly loved one’s ability to remain at home. If you find that your loved one’s well-being is compromised due to declining health or disabilities, it may be time to consider investing in some care at home if their wishes are indeed to stay home. Everyday activities such as going up and down the stairs or simply navigating from one room to another can become a hazard, but are easily preventable with the caregiving solution and plan we put in place.
Finding the right solutions for your elderly loved one can be terribly overwhelming. The first step is to evaluate your elder’s needs based on his or her current state of health and living conditions. Survey the appearance of their home and the overall state of the house. Do you notice clutter piling up? Are items in disarray? Are things in the wrong place? Many times, if a senior has anxiety about the chance of falling, they may tend to stay where they feel the safest. You may see items kept nearby that they use often or that are in unaccessible spaces like on the second or third floor or in the basement.
If the senior is having trouble with their activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom, you may notice they are wearing the same clothes day after day or that clothes are soiled. Maybe you can tell they are not showering or bathing or taking care of their hair and teeth. When you visit, you may see there isn’t much food in the house and the bills are piling up. All of these concerns are a sign that it’s time to begin making your plan.
The key to honor your loved one’s wishes to stay home is to assess the safety of their home, look at a financial overview of those costs, and look at the care level they need. If after you assess the situation and feel that home care may be best, it’s time to put a plan into action. Don’t wait for a fall that changes someone’s life to move forward with hiring a licensed, bonded, accredited agency. Having these difficult conversations is not always easy. Some seniors are very resistant to having someone in their home. Reach out to Akin Care to discuss how to have those difficult conversations so you are not alone through the process. We can help you learn how to gently make recommendations and empower your loved one to be a part of the decision making process.