Planning for the future can be a stressful endeavor. That’s why Home Instead created the Home Your Own Way free resources to help you or a loved one discover the best place to age: your current home or someplace you may have never considered. It can be a tough decision, and these tools are designed to help aging adults or their adult children start the discussion and begin planning. This program encourages families to learn more about these important topics:
• What to consider if you stay in your home
• Common home safety hazards and how to fix them
• New technologies to help a senior stay at home
• Conversation starters for older adults and their children
According to a Home Instead, Inc. survey, 90 percent of North American homeowners between the ages of 55 and 75 would like to stay in their longtime home as they get older.
And, not surprisingly, 66 percent of seniors believe their home is where they will be most comfortable physically and emotionally, with 53 percent believing they will stay healthier in their own home.
But living out that scenario and remaining in the driver’s seat calls for a plan of action -- and an understanding of the issues of aging and potential safety risks in the home such as the following.
The Risks: Mobility, balance, senses and memory
• Agility and mobility. Conditions such as arthritis can impair mobility. Stairs that were once easy to navigate with groceries and toddlers may now present a challenge.
• Balance. Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and other chronic conditions increase the risk for balance problems as well as falls on slippery floors and getting in and out of the bathtub.
• Eyesight. Poor eyesight may lead to such things as falls and the inability to groom, cook and take medication.
• It’s estimated that at least half of adults over age 85 have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Memory issues can jeopardize an older adult’s ability to remain at home.
As a result of these risks, many families will be faced with the question: Should I stay or should I go? It's a question potentially so easy to avoid. Facing aging issues does not mean that a move from home is on the horizon, though. Home care makes it possible to remain home despite physical challenges. And even if a move is warranted, there are plenty of other options today's aging adults could pursue including independent living and continuing care communities. To discover how a Home Instead Caregiver could help keep you or a loved one safe at home, contact your local Home Instead office.
There are some pitfalls to be aware of when making your decision. Millions of older adults potentially will want to stay in their homes as they age, but homes may have pitfalls that could sabotage that plan. Let's identify the common home pitfalls you or a loved one could face at home, and some ways to fix them to make the home safer.
1. Tubs, showers and toilets. Sunken showers and tubs below floor level, slippery steps and nothing to hold onto make for an accident waiting to happen. The fix: Talk to a home remodeler about replacing the tub with a curb-less walk-in shower. Looking to make some changes to make home safer for you or a loved one? Call us at Home Instead and we can help guide you to those who can help. With some simple changes, home can be safer place to age.
2. Thresholds. Even a threshold (or step up) into a house of 6 inches could be a challenge for someone with a walker or in a wheelchair. The fix: A removable ramp or a lift can make for easier entrances and exits.
3. Stairs. Stairs aren’t always designed for those with balance or mobility issues. Railings often are only on one side of stairs and lighting in entrances may be inadequate. The fix: Look into the option of adding a stair lift or glide. Additional handrails could also help.
4. Floors. Material used to design both bathroom and kitchen floors could be slippery. The fix: Runners with rubber backing or throw rugs are an inexpensive solution.
5. Lighting. Inadequate lighting could be an issue in several areas of the home including entrances, bathrooms, hallways and bedrooms. The fix: Upgrade to LED bulbs, which are brighter and have the potential for a longer service life.
In a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., nearly 80 percent of the North American homeowners between ages 55 and 75 surveyed said they had given at least a little thought to what they will need or need to do to age in place. Forethought and planning could help Baby Boomers and seniors age safely wherever they call home. To discover how a Caregiver could help keep you or a loved one remain safely at home, contact Home Instead to learn more.
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.