How to Age in Place
What does it mean to “age in place?” This is a commonly used term in the senior housing industry. The definition of aging in place for a senior means living in their residence of choice as they age for as long as possible. However, aging in place can be complicated because life is complicated. And there are more choices of where to age in place than the home where your family grew up.
Staying Home versus Assisted Living
Many of our parents have an outdated opinion of assisted living. The industry has evolved dramatically over the last few decades. Your parent may not be fully aware of all the options they have in senior living to enhance their quality of life. Perhaps your parent feels they need to stay in their home because they don’t want to burden you with selling the house and moving. They may feel it’s more practical. However, staying in their house could cause your family more time, money, and stress to accommodate their changing physical needs and quality of life.
As your parent ages, even with the best intentions, it may not be realistic for them to live on their own. Physical changes will happen with age. These changes impact their daily lives in both big and small ways. Common physical challenges and limitations in the elderly that affect their everyday life include:
- Unsteady on their feet and a higher risk of falling
- Mobility issues
- Diminished eyesight
- Hearing loss
- Increased risk of illness
- Reduced cognitive function
- Weakened muscles and frailty
- Less dexterity in their hands and fingers
Quality of Life
Beyond their physical needs, some factors can dramatically impact their quality of life. You want to make sure they are safe and healthy, but also happy and thriving. When you are looking at the big picture of aging in place, you also need to consider these concerns and how they might be addressed:
Your parent may find it challenging to perform personal tasks, or what is often referred to as the activities of daily living (ADLs). Daily tasks we usually take for granted can be monumental tasks with age, frailty, or mobility issues. ADLs include getting dressed, showering, toileting, grooming, and being able to move from a bed to a wheelchair. Throughout the day, these needs will have to be met.
With an increase of ailments and illnesses, your parent may be juggling bottles of medications that need to be taken correctly and more medical appointments to make. Making sure they regularly take their prescriptions, watching for drug interactions, getting refills, seeing their physician, and monitoring any changes in condition, at this stage of their life, is very important.
Nutrition is a real concern for your parent. Even lifting groceries out of their car can influence their shopping decisions. Are they eating a balanced diet? Watching their sodium? Getting fresh fruits and vegetables? After the loss of a spouse, eating alone can be depressing. Many seniors opt for a readymade microwave dinner, instead of fixing a meal from scratch for one. If your parent is taking easy, meal-making shortcuts or skipping meals, it can adversely affect their health.
As your parent gets older, small tasks may be more difficult. House maintenance can quickly become unmanageable. Home repair, yard work, grocery shopping, trash removal, and even pet care can be difficult for someone who has mobility issues. Also, is it realistic for your family to remodel their home to meet their changing needs? Some needed remodeling projects include a ramp to the front door, walk-in shower, grab bars, chair-height toilets, easy to reach cabinets, adjusting countertops, chair lift or elevator, wider hallways for a wheelchair, new doorknobs, better lighting, and slip-resistant floors. Some houses cannot accommodate these changes, even if the expense of remodeling is not a factor.
Seniors who live in their house alone can feel isolated, particularly if they no longer drive a car. They may have lost a spouse, and often their circle of friends decreases. Family members lead busy lives, which can make it challenging to visit frequently. Loneliness can lead to signs of depression and negatively affect their health.
Assisted Living Options
At Aegis Living, we offer our residents higher care options and flexible levels of care to meet their physical demands and healthcare needs as they change. Once your parent has decided to make the move into one of our assisted living communities, we want them to continue to live there as long as possible. Our goal is for them to remain in their new home, surrounded by the new friends and familiar faces they have come to know and count on.
We have skilled nurses on staff to monitor our residents’ health, and medication managers ensure prescriptions are accurately taken. Our around-the-clock care staff will help with any ADLs and support services to make our residents comfortable. Our chefs prepare nutritious meals with fresh, seasonal products. The Life Enrichment staff keeps our residents active, and new friendships keep them engaged. Moreover, if your parent has any issues with dementia or memory loss, each community has a dedicated memory care area.
If their house cannot accommodate their needs, an assisted living community is a great option to offer your parent support services and resources.
You want your parent to feel stable and secure wherever they live. Sometimes aging in place in their family home may not be the best fit to live a healthy and happy life. Preparing for the changing needs in a senior’s life will help you all plan for their future with as little disruption as possible.
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