What does it mean to "Age In Place"?
Aging in place is a phrase that is often used to refer to a person living out their golden years in a residence of their choosing. With minimal help, these people are able to maintain their independence and quality of life.
While aging in place is a preferred situation for many seniors, there are challenges that can present themselves and threaten this preferred independence. But with planning and preparation, an elderly person can overcome these challenges and maintain their quality of life in the residence of their choosing.
When & How to Plan
When it comes to planning for this phase of life, a good offense is the best defense. Obviously, you'll want to make sure that any financial plans are set up as early as possible, preferably during the working years. Retirement plans should be set as early as possible and then adjusted as needed to meet the changing requirements.
Aside from planning for this phase financially, looking at it from a more practical approach will help as well. There are some questions you can ask yourself as you prepare yourself or your loved ones.
- Where is my parent going to live?
- How close will I or a family member be in case of emergency?
- How is the house laid out? Will there be stairs to navigate?
- What potential dangers around the house might I be overlooking?
- How often will I be available to check in?
- Will they remember to take their medication?
- Are they able to cook for themselves?
Asking yourself these questions can improve how you execute your planning for this period in your parents' life. It helps to put yourself in their shoes. Remember that what might not be challenging for you may become very difficult for them. Some changes that may not be so obvious are:
- Poor eyesight
- Reduced muscular strength and stability
- Physical and mental fatigue
- Fragile bone structure
- Poor balance
- Reduced hearing capacity
- Diminished flexibility
Obviously these challenges might not all apply to your parent/parents right now but they are definitely something to consider as they age in the home.
So what can you do to help your parents stay in their homes as they age?
Lets start with making the home as safe as possible.
Grab a checklist and walk through your parent's home and jot down anything that may be a potential danger, even if it currently isn't. Some examples include:
- Carpeting and clutter as potential trip hazards
- Bathing equipment like shower chairs or grab rails
- Lighting or lack thereof
- Smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors
- Doors and small steps that can be missed
Speak to their doctor.
It really helps to know if your parent has any physical or mental limitations. It's important to know if they have any condition that could make them more prone to have an accident around the house.
Set up a plan for an emergency.
In the case of an emergency, it is important that they can get a hold of you or medical professionals. In the case of falls, sometimes a phone is not always accessible. You can consider getting them some sort of wearable medical device that they can simply use in the case of an emergency. That way, if they find themselves unable to get out of a chair or bed etc they can easily get in touch with someone.
Consider home care.
Depending on how independent your parent is, having a regularly scheduled caregiver can help tremendously with their stay in the home. There are many companies out there that offer flexible options and schedules to accommodate almost any situation. There are a number of services a caregiver can provide.
- Help prepare meals
- Keep up with medications
- Run errands your parent might not be able to do on their own
- Housekeeping duties
- Provide companionship
A caregiver can help take on some of the responsibility of your parent's needs and be there when you're not able to.
Helping your parent's prepare for their golden years is essential to healthy, independent aging. Hopefully this post has given you some direction to go in as you make your preparations. Of course, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.