Columns
May 23, 2019
link to facebook link to twitter

Navigating the aging journey

Julie Ann Soukoulis
Planning for aging at home
March 15, 2019

While many seniors have considered how their needs will change with age, only one in four seniors has a specific plan for where they will live as they age. And while 79 percent of older adults have given at least some thought to things they will need to do to enable them to live in their own home while they age, nearly half of all seniors have taken no action to ensure that they will be able to live in their home as they age, such as modifying their home and asking family and friends for help around the house. In fact, only 37 percent have definite plans to modify their lifestyle to enable aging in place.

When it comes to planning for their forever home, the majority of seniors are unwilling to admit the need for assistance to help them age in place. Less than one third (31 percent) plans on hiring professionals to maintain their home. 

Those who are open to assistance are more interested in receiving help with everyday tasks than care, as 79 percent report interest in hiring someone to clean versus 44 percent who say they are interested in personal care. For help with those everyday tasks, homeowners are more likely to hire outside help than ask family or friends.

Hire a handyman, hire someone to clean, hire someone for regular home maintenance tasks, hire someone to do the yard work and snow removal – all ranked higher than asking a friend or relative to help with these same tasks. For example, hiring someone for assistance with yard work and snow removal versus asking a friend or family member for help with those same yard maintenance tasks had desirability levels of 58 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

Though aging seniors desire to remain independent, admitting the need for assistance with everyday tasks and care to friends and family members, earlier rather than later, could mean more freedom for seniors when deciding where to age in place.

As seniors age, though, “home” may look different depending on the situation – from staying in the current house or moving to a new community. Home Instead, Inc. sought to better understand how seniors are making plans and decisions about their forever homes and where there may be gaps in planning. Over the next few weeks we will review these Home Your Way resources.

The Home Your Own Way public education program was developed by Home Instead, Inc., offers free resources to help people decide where it’s best for them to age: their current home or another option. It can be a tough decision, and these tools are made to help seniors or their adult children start the discussion and begin planning. This program encourages families to learn more about:

• How to know if your home is ready to age with you

• What to consider if you stay in your home

• Common home renovations for aging in place

• Common home safety hazards

• New technologies to help a senior stay at home

• Conversation starters for older adults and their children

 How ready is your home to age with you?

A family home can hold many memories of holidays and milestones. But as we age, our needs may change. Homes that were just right for a growing family may be too big, have too many steps, or lack updated safety features later in life. But some homes are already just right! Answer these 10 questions:

Where is your washer/ dryer located in the home?

How many stairs are in your home?

How accommodating is the main bathroom you use for bathing? Tub? Shower stall? How easy are the thresholds to getting in & out of the tub or shower stall?

The home entrance has steps or stairs? If so how many? If so, are there hand railings?

How hard would it be to navigate through your home with as a walker or scooter etc.?

How close are family and friends living to you?

Which best describes the interior stairs in your home? Narrow or spiral?  One handrail? Two handrails on each side of the stairs or no stairs at all inside the home? 

What is the level of security you have in your home? Traditional doorbell? Video doorbell? (Such as a ring device?) Home monitoring system? Emergency response device wore on the body? 

Do you have a wheelchair accessible bathroom, including doorway, shower, sink and toilet?

From your home, how long does it take you to get to basic conveniences, like a grocery store or a pharmacy? Less than 10 min. car ride? 20 min.? 30 min.? Over 45 min.? 

These discussions are made to help seniors or their adult children start the discussion and begin planning. Searching for more resources? Call me and speak with one of our compassionate and knowledgeable home care consultants who can help you create a strategy that will help you achieve your goals for aging in place.

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern?  She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.