Most individuals hope to be able to age in place. If your parents or other loved ones have that thought as well, there are steps that can be, and should be, taken to make certain that dream can be realized.
It’s a fact of life that we simply do not know what the next day will bring. From suffering a stroke, a trip or fall accident or some other illness or injury, your loved one may go from being independent to being reliant on friends and family or being in the care of physicians. Planning now – today as a matter of fact – to make your home senior-friendly can help you realize the dream of aging in place. Consider too, that an illness or injury could mean you or your elderly loved one could require care for a limited or a long-term commitment, having a conversation today and putting measures in place will relieve much of the stress that arises when the need is imminent.
At some point in almost every person’s life he or she will need personal care above and beyond what a family member may be able to provide. The National Institutes on Health estimate that as many as 70% of all individuals 65-years-old or older will need long-term care assistance.
Here are some items to take into consideration when planning for long-term care, whether it will be in home or in a skilled facility setting:
Where will you want to be cared for and who can provide the care?
- In-home personal care aide? You can hire a professional to come into the home and care for an aging loved one. These individuals can provide health care and even help around the house with cooking meals and running errands. A personal care aide can help with bathing and other self care issues.
- Senior day programs are provided to adults in a community setting and offer meals, social interaction and activities and are an ideal setting for individuals that require help during the day. These programs may even offer occupational or physical therapy as well as transportation and are ideal for individuals who are able to be alone at night but need assistance during the day.
- Senior housing/assisted living settings provide amenities the same as you’d have in your own home but the units also offer housekeeping, access to medical personnel, exercise, activities and help with bathing and other personal care needs.
- A nursing home is a setting in which 24-hour care is provided. These settings are for individuals unable to care for themselves whether from an illness or injury.
- Staying in the home is made even more feasible if the home is equipped with a medical alert device and your loved with one with a personal medical alert device. These devices not only offer peace of mind when your loved one is home alone but also provide them with immediate access to emergency medical care if the need arises.
The level of care you or your elderly relative needs will hinge on the circumstances, the level of care a family member needs and the level that other family members feel comfortable providing.
Here are questions that all family members should be involved in when making decisions on long-term care:
- What level of service will be required?
- Is there a family member that is willing to take on the role of caregiver?
- Is there special assistance that will be needed?
- Is the home senior-friendly? By this we mean, has the bathroom been modified to the needs of a senior (grab bars in the shower, raised toilet seats, etc). Is the kitchen set up so that the senior doesn’t need to climb in order to reach cooking items? Are the rugs non slip? Are there clear pathways to and from the rooms? Are hallways equipped with motion sensor or easy to reach light switches?
- What does the family doctor recommend for the level of care the senior needs?
- Are there long-term care or assisted living facilities in the area that have open beds? Remember, if your loved one moves into an assisted living setting, his or her personal medical device can move right along with them and offer an additional layer of care and peace of mind protection.
- What kind of insurance or other savings are available to pay for the long term care needs?
Taking time now to research options and have open discussions on the needs, wants and desires of the seniors in your life will make it easier for you to make decisions on their behalf (if necessary) when a health need arises. Making life decisions when in the midst of a crisis situation could lead to stress and uncertainty.