Category Archives: Aging in place

Five Areas Of Concern For Families With Aging Relatives

Remaining independent and aging in place is usually a goal for all adults. Being able to live in the family home and take care of the finances and other household chores is important for both mind and body for the aging senior and their adult children. There may come a time though when the adult children begin to notice signs that their parents are unable to live alone and steps must be taken.

The steps don’t necessarily need to be as drastic as downsizing to a retirement home, but could be as simple as equipping the home with a medical monitoring device. These devices help seniors remain independent for much longer because they not only offer peace of mind but provide access to medical care at the push of a button.

Here are five warning signs that adult children should be aware of and address:

  • Are the bills delinquent? If there is money available to pay the bills, but they aren’t getting paid on time, there could be any number of reasons. Remaining current on bills, especially the utility bills could mean the difference between having heat and electricity or not. If there has been the loss of one of the spouses, you may find that the deceased spouse had been the one responsible for paying the bills and the remaining spouse is not equipped to take on the role.
  • Are they spending their money wisely? There are many individuals out there who prey on the elderly either by conning them out of their money or by convincing them to buy goods or services that they simply don’t need. Impress upon your aging parents the fact that they shouldn’t buy anything from anyone that is going door-to-door. They should also not fall prey to individuals that call them and ask for their personal financial information.
  • Is the house falling into disrepair or is it becoming cluttered? If your parents were at one time scrupulous about keeping the interior and exterior of the home properly maintained and that is no longer happening, it may mean they are in need of assistance with both inside and outside help. If a family member can’t take on the role of caregiver or maintenance person, you may need to hire an individual to take on the task. Check references before hiring anyone and trusting them with your relatives.
  • Are they making changes to financial accounts? If your parents are opening or closing bank accounts and adding other individuals to these accounts, this should raise a red flag. Also, make certain they are not purchasing or cancelling insurance policies – again these are scams perpetrated on seniors by con artists. There have also been instances where an in-home caregiver has bilked the senior out of funds through fraudulent means. Impress upon your parents the fact that no changes should be made to bank accounts or insurance policies without first talking to family members.
  • Take the time to run an annual (free) credit report on your parents behalf; this is a great way to monitor their credit for unusual activities and make certain they haven’t been the victim of any identity theft.

It may not be an easy conversation to have with your aging parents as they will want you to believe they are still able to live independently, but if you let them know you’re concerned, chances are you can have an open and honest conversation about their finances and living arrangements.  As long as they are aware that you have their best interests at heart, they will be forthcoming.

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Volunteering Is Good For Your Health And Well-Being

Studies show that individuals who remain active and involved have an improved brain function and an overall sense of well-being. For many individuals, retirement brings with it a wealth of free-time but may also bring a feeling of being disconnected. Because people spend so many years juggling family, careers and other daily responsibilities, the downtime associated with retirement may lead to despair and depression. A way to combat this lack of purpose that comes with retirement is by volunteering. The benefits of volunteering are myriad and include the sense of well-being from helping others as well as having a sense of purpose cannot be discounted.

Some of the benefits of volunteering include:

  • Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s: Because volunteers feel a greater satisfaction with their lives and have a higher quality of life than those who don’t volunteer, the risk of Alzheimer’s can be lessened.
  • Lower rate of mortality: Getting up and out of the house on a semi-regular basis not only benefits the charity or place they volunteer but it also benefits him or her by keeping them active, social and engaged in the community.
  • Keeping bones and joints strong. UCLA researchers found that “productive activities” could prevent the onset of frailty, a condition marked by low energy, low strength, weight loss and lowered physical activity. Reducing the impact of frailty could help a senior avoid a trip or fall accident which befalls many seniors over the age of 65.
  • Brain function improvements: Seniors that participate in activities remain more alert and cognizant and this can help them age in place for more years than those who don’t participate in outside activities.

In addition to the benefits listed, volunteering offers immediate satisfaction by imparting a sense of accomplishment, purpose, enhanced social skills and helping by staying connected and involved. As a caregiver it may be a good idea to discuss the possibility of volunteering with the seniors in your life. Help them find an organization that is a good fit for their skills and abilities. Helping keep them active will enhance their ability to remain active and enable them to live independently.

Senior Financial Care And Planning

The cost of both aging in place and the cost of private care in an assisted living facility or nursing home continues to increase. It’s anticipated that by 2028 the cost of private nursing home care will double from its levels today. Additionally, the government has forecast that there could be a 50% increase in those individuals aged 65 or older and that could put a strain the resources available for nursing home care.

Aging is something that should be anticipated, especially as it typically means more time for travel and relaxation and time spent with family and grandchildren. For peace of mind, though it is imperative that steps be taken to address the need for care as you age, whether that care will be in your own home, a private facility or with a family member. Leaving the task up to your caregivers is a daunting one as they may be unaware of your wishes or your finances. Spending time with family members to formulate a plan for either aging in place or making a move to another location should be done well in advance of the need arising. While it is not an easy conversation to have, it relieves the burden on your potential caregivers and helps assure that you will have the care you desire as you age.

Here are some items to discuss with your family:

  • Your financial situation
  • Where your medical records and other medical papers are stored
  • What options you’d prefer as it relates to in-home care or moving to an assisted living facility or whether you’d move in with a family member
  • What state or federal benefits you have available to pay for your care
  • Access to your health and life insurance policies and information
  • What steps you’d like taken in your care and the signing of a health care proxy
  • What steps you can take to make your home more secure and safe as you age and the potential of installing a medical alert device in the home to make certain that if a health issue arises, you have access to immediate medical emergency care.

An essential element in your retirement and health planning will be funding the lifestyle to which you’ve been accustomed and would like to retain. Working with a financial adviser or a family member to arrange your finances to accommodate your needs is a task better done sooner rather than later to assure you have the cash flow necessary when the time comes to retire.

The Benefits Of Aging In Place

Moving is stressful for anyone at any age and that stress is amplified when a senior citizen needs to consider a move to a new home. Your aging relatives are accustomed to the family home and are comfortable with the location of items in the kitchen and the placement of the light switches and other familiar objects; it’s easy to see how a move to an assisted living facility could lead to increased stress.

As we age, the more stressful and dangerous, it can be to move to a new location. With care and diligence your relatives may be able to stay in the family home much longer than they’d been able to in the past.

Age-proofing the home with senior-friendly devices, proper layout of furniture and placement of items in cupboards are action items that can help your loved ones live safely at home.  Look at the home and its set up, with a critical eye. Perhaps having your parents relocate to a single floor of the home will ease fears of falling on the stairs. It may make sense to equip the bathroom with senior-friendly tub and shower set ups. Another reasonable step is to provide a medical alert system to help them in the event of a fall or medical emergency.

Some of the benefits of aging in place are:

  1. The feeling of being independent
  2. “Home” offers comfort, memories and personal belongings.
  3. Feeling the security of being in their familiar space.
  4. Familiarity with the community, neighborhood and block they live in. This increases safety as they navigate their normal routes while driving to the store, pharmacy or church.
  5. Cost savings (especially if the home is paid off) vs. cost of assisted living.

Help your loved one maintain a lifestyle that is healthy, active and rewarding by taking steps early to ensure they are doing all they can to remain independent.

Can Home Automation Make Aging In Place A Reality?

Home automation may offer the aging relative in your life an opportunity to remain in his or her home for a longer period of time than may have been possible in the past. While home automation won’t address every issue that may arise, it can certainly add to the safety factor in your relatives’ home. The technology available ranges from home medical alert devices to the ability to not only talk with, but physically see, your relatives through the use of a web camera.

 

Statistics point to the fact that 10,000 individuals a day, in this country alone, will turn 65-years-old and when you consider that one in every three adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall in the home, automated technology simply makes sense. There are automation devices on the market that not only help your aging relative in the home, but those that also help you to stay in touch with them if you’re not in close proximity. Devices such as medical alert pendants provide both safety and security as it is a literal lifeline to emergency medical help if the need arises.

 

As a way to help the senior citizen in your life embrace the Golden Years, you can add more peace of mind to their daily living by addressing issues that come with aging that include forgetfulness, falls, impaired senses and home maintenance.

 

As we age, forgetfulness is an unfortunate fact of life and this can be hazardous if your aging relative forgets to turn off the stove or coffee pot. Purchase electrical appliances that have an auto shut-off to aid in the event your love one is forgetful. There are home automation products on the market that can even shut off the current to a major household appliance like the stove; the product can be set to automatically shut off a circuit after the power has been drawing through it for a specified period of time. Taking medications at a specific time on a daily basis can also be enhanced through technology and can be as simple as setting up daily alerts through an alarm. You can schedule reminders through the computer that you use to have web cam conversations with your relative.

 

 

 

 

Doors and windows can be equipped with sensors that will sound if they are left ajar; LED strobe light sensors can also be utilized and these devices can aid those individuals with failing eyesight. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and maintained; if their hearing is failing make certain you look for detectors that have louder-than-usual sirens. Another way to prevent falls in the home, opt for motion sensor lights that will turn on when the individual comes into a room, these will also turn off after a specified amount of time and that will help in case they forget to flip the switch once they’ve left the room.

 

As we age, our bodies are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations and as such it can be useful to install and program thermostats that will turn the air conditioner or heater on and off when the house reaches a certain temperature. These devices can be programmed to turn up or down at various times throughout the day (and this can be a money-saving option). There are also thermostats that can be programmed remotely.

 

Depending on the health level of the senior citizens in your life, you may find it useful to install in home surveillance cameras as a way to monitor them when you’re not in the vicinity. Cameras can also be used to monitor outside entrances and in some cases you can set up monitors within the home that will allow your relative to see who is at the door before he or she goes to answer it.  

 

 Hold a family meeting to discuss which technologies make sense to install in the home to help your relatives age in place successfully.

 

What You Can Do To Help Aging Relatives Remain In Their Home

Regardless of how old or frail your parents are, it’s a difficult transition to make from them being the caretaker to becoming the care recipient. Just as it may be uncomfortable for you to jump into their lives and offer help, they may balk at the idea of having to give up independence and ask for assistance. One of the biggest fears most individuals have as they age is the idea of having to move out of their family home and into an assisted living facility.

There are steps you can take, along with your aging parents’ input, that may make it possible for them to remain independent in their home. The decision to age-in-place has many factors that need to be considered and there may be a time when it simply isn’t a feasible option, but until that time, here are some items to look into to help them stay at home and remain independent:

  • Check with social service agencies in your community to see what kind of services are available to your aging parents. You may also want to look into a geriatric care manager; these individuals work as a liaison between you and your aging relatives and some social service agencies. Ask your parents’ doctor for advice as well, on senior services.
  • Alter the home to make it more senior friendly. Add a home medical monitoring device and use a medical alert pendant for each individual in the home. These devices offer 24/7 peace of mind and provide a way for your aging relative to have immediate access to medical care in the event of a trip or fall accident or other health emergency. Install motion activated light switches, upgrade the bathroom and make certain there are non slip rugs on all floors and in the bathtub, move items throughout the house to a level that can be reached without having to step on a step stool.
  • Look into home meal delivery systems. Most areas have a Meals-on-Wheels service or something similar in nature.  This is generally available for those who are housebound and those seniors that are still mobile but who simply don’t want to cook meals every day of the week.
  • Check into shuttle services or transportation services for the elderly. These transportation providers can get your relatives to and from doctor’s visits, days out at a senior center where they can interact and socialize.
  • Check with the local library to see if it offers a book delivery service. This may be a great way to keep your aging relatives supplied with reading material or even books on tape.
  • Ask your aging parents what issues they feel they’re having in the home and look for products or service providers that can help address them.

Keep your aging relatives involved with family events by inviting them to parties, dinners out and making certain you stop by to visit on a regular basis.

Signs Your Loved One is Withdrawing from Life

Aging has a tendency to push the ones we love into smaller and smaller circles, withdrawing from wider-reaching social groups and activities. Removing oneself from certain facets of the outside world is commonplace for senior citizens, as they downsize their home, move into retirement communities, and forgo activities their bodies can no longer physically handle.

While downsizing and withdrawing may have a negative connotation, restructuring one’s life due to age can bring about many positive changes. Moving into a smaller home can alleviate the need for yard work or household tasks that are no longer manageable for them such as cleaning gutters, mowing the lawn or pulling weeds. Downsizing can also reduce bills and can free up more time for your loved one to engage in other activities they’re interested in but sometimes this can create new problems!

As your loved one begins to adapt to their new lifestyle, one of the most important things they can do to maintain their happiness is nurture their social connections. Most elderly individuals see retirement as a period in their life in which they want to spend more time with their families. However, the elderly often feel isolated as family and friends move away or pass on. Losing one’s loved ones or feeling disconnected can facilitate a downward spiral or lead to depression. Therefore, the most important indicator of happiness as people age depends on their ability to adapt to change. Going into isolation is a choice elderly individuals make, which often results in the following behaviors:

  1. Driving less or eliminating vehicles: Elderly individuals often begin to limit their amount of driving and downsize from two cars to one.
  2. Reduce their amount of travel and entertainment: Your loved ones may begin to cut down on the number of vacations they take each year, reduce the amount of time they spend on vacation, or stop going on vacations altogether. In addition to limiting trips, your loved one may also limit the amount of restaurants and or other activities they go to.
  3. Cut out or reduce hobbies: You may also notice that your loved one has quit attending regular activities with friends like playing golf or cards or even doing solo activities like knitting or gardening.
  4. Reducing the size of their closet or getting rid of belongings: The elderly tend to get rid of some of the clothing they think they no longer have use for.
  5. Moving closer to their children: This act often results in a greater reliance of their children for errands and activities.
  6. Eating habits: Your loved one may begin to limit what they eat, eating the same meals every day and foregoing new foods or recipes.
  7. Reduce the amount of time spent with friends and social groups: Lunch dates and social gatherings with friends may be reduced or eliminated altogether.

While some aspects of withdrawing and downsizing are normal when it comes to aging, completely cutting oneself off from the outside world and resorting to isolation is not. Make sure your loved is adapting well to change or consult with their doctor if you believe their behavior has become a cause for concern!

Aging In Place Is Possible With Pre-Planning

Your elderly parents are comfortable in their home and don’t have the desire to move to a smaller house or into assisted living but you and your other family members are worried about their safety, especially as they get older.

Opting for in-home care for your parents is a perfect bridge from living completely alone to moving to an assisted living facility. Additionally, when your parents are in need of additional “supervision” setting up their home with a medical alert pendant increases the security the whole family feels. With a home medical alert device, your relative simply needs to press the button on the pendant and that sets in motion a call from the medical alert provider and the dispatching of emergency medical personnel if necessary.

Receiving in-home care offers your aging loved ones the ability to remain both comfortable and independent in the surroundings to which they’ve become accustomed. Also, when you hire in-home care, your parents may remain at home for a longer period of time simply because they are in familiar surroundings and can still take care of themselves and their home. An in-home care provider allows your relatives to age in place, offers the primary caregiver respite and can also assist your relatives with daily tasks such as personal care and housekeeping.

In-home care providers offer myriad services ranging from medical care to housekeeping, cooking, taking your parents to doctor’s appointments and simply providing company. The need of your relatives will determine the level of care and this will also help you to determine the skills and training necessary for the in-home care provider. You can work out a schedule with the provider that suits both the needs of your aging parents as well as the needs and schedules of family caregivers; in-home care support can be a seamless bridge between visits by family members just as the home medical alert device offers peace of mind for those times when your aging relatives are home alone.

When you consider that in-home help is more a necessity than a luxury you may be better able to get buy in from family members and from your parents themselves. Bear in mind that your relatives may be hesitant to have a stranger come into their home.

Explain these benefits to both family members as well as your parents when you’re in the midst of making these arrangements:

  • Home caregivers appreciate your relative’s need for independence and can be as involved as you, and your parents, feel necessary. They can simply be there to lighten the day-to-day burdens of cooking, housekeeping and running of errands.
  • Being in familiar surroundings will keep the seniors in your life more mentally, emotionally and physically alert.
  • In-home care is more cost effective than facilitated living.
  • Care can be given in an environment that is less stressful for your aging relative. If one or more of your aging relatives is recovering from an illness, aging at home will likely hasten their recovery.

When you consider that the idea of giving up independence and a family home will cause your aging loved ones stress and could even lead to emotional issues, there truly is no place like home for your relatives to be and in-home caregivers make that a possibility.

Understanding Why Your Relatives Want To Age At Home

You may sometimes wonder why your aging loved ones are being “stubborn” when it comes to wanting to age inplace. When you consider the options available to your relatives as they age it simply seems easier to move them to assisted living than take care of the maintenance and upkeep on the family home. Many assisted living communities offer a space for home-cooked meals, both on-site and off-site activities, day trips and other luxuries and amenities that aren’t available to many people who are living in their own home.

In some cases, it may be difficult to convince your parents that moving into an assisted living facility is a great decision. If you feel strongly that they need to move to a facility with full-time care, consider these five reasons why your elderly loved ones may want to remain in their own homes:

  1. There truly is no place like home. Many people, especially the elderly, have a hard time with change and uprooting their lives from a home that they’ve lived in for decades. They’re comfortable in their own home and it’s a difficult change. They may have dreamed of turning the home over to the children.
  2. If they’re involved in the community, they may be afraid they’ll lose touch. If your parents have lived in one place for many years, they’ve likely developed friendships with neighbors and even with those who work at the local grocery stores.
  3. They may fear loss of freedom. Many individuals believe that if they move into an assisted living facility that they will have to give up all of their personal freedoms. Sleeping, eating and personal entertainment patterns are different for every person, and your aging relatives can maintain those even if they move into an assisted living facility.
  4. Personalized care can be brought into the home. You can certainly hire a home healthcare aide to come in and visit with your relatives and make certain they are being well taken care of. If you hire an aide to come to the house, they may feel they’re getting more personalized care than they would if they went to a facility.
  5. Technology makes aging in place more of a possibility. When you consider the cast resources available to seniors, staying in the family home seems more plausible.
  6. You can equip your parent’s house with a home medical monitoring system and a medical alert bracelet or pendant to make staying in the family home more viable. A home medical alert system offers peace of mind for both you and your parents.

Work with your parents and see if you can come to a compromise as it relates to aging in place.

Monitor Your Elderly Relatives Daily Living Activities

 

Everyday activities play a larger role in the lives or your elderly loved ones and relatives and even more so if they are afflicted with health issues. These daily activities can be one of the determining factors in whether they can continue to age in place or whether they may need to relocate to an assisted living facility. Paying attention to what your aging parents can do on a day-to-day basis will be something that becomes more crucial as they age if they’re determined to age in their own home.

Talk with them about household chores and grooming, as well as those they don’t feel they can handle any longer, such as driving or managing finances can help you decide whether they’re still able to live on their own or if you need to become more involved.

Here are some daily activities to monitor and consider when deciding on your loved one’s long or short term capabilities.

Telephone:

  • Can they make and receive calls and hear the caller?
  • Do they need a special phone with caller ID, large numbers or those with more powerful speakers?
  • Do they misplace their mobile phone or a portable land line handset

Mobility:

  • Are they able to drive?
  • If he or she can’t drive, does a relative nearby that can help?
  • Does the local grocery store of pharmacy deliver?
  • Have they had fender benders or more serious accidents in recent months?
  • Can they still navigate the grocery store? If not, does the store deliver?
  • Can they handle pushing a shopping cart and the checkout process?
  • If they are on medication, does it make them drowsy?

Hygiene:

  • Are they bathing or showering regularly?
  • Are they brushing their teeth and combing their hair every day?
  • Are they keeping up with their laundry?

Nutrition:

  • Are they able to safely operate the stove and microwave?
  • Are they eating healthy meals?
  • Are they having trouble remembering to turn off the stove once they’re done

Finances:

  • Can they write checks and balance their checkbooks?
  • Are they able to afford their bills?
  • Are they paying their bills on time?
  • Do they have a budget they follow?

Medications:

  • Are they regularly taking their medications?
  • Are they getting their refills on time? You might want to see if the local pharmacy sends out reminders or can deliver.

Safety:

  • Are there any obstructions or obstacles in their way as they move through their home creating a possibility of falling?
  • Does the home or apartment have good locks?
  • Do they know not to open the door to strangers? They should not allow any door-to-door individuals sell them any goods or services.
  • Make sure they realize they should not give out any personal information over the phone unless they are absolutely certain who the caller is.
  • Do they have a burglar alarm installed?
  • Do they have a home medical alert system in the event of a medical emergency or fall?

Every family situation is unique and you find there are other activities you need to monitor. No matter what the situation is, be sure to identify ways to help them retain their independence as much as possible. Keeping them involved in the process of deciding what is manageable and what they need to relinquish to others is key to ensuring they feel in control of their own life!