One of the first benefits of aging in place is the comfort and routines of home are not forced to change. The ability to remain in their community with their friends and familiarity can significantly reduce the stress aging and change causes. Another plus is that the cost of aging care is much lower than living in a senior care center. However, this is not always the best choice for everyone. Various factors must be assessed to decide if this would be the right option.
Did you know that the average lifespan of Americans increased dramatically over the last 100 years? For instance, male children that were born in the early 1900s lived 46 years, while a female child had a life expectancy of only 48 years. Now, males can expect an average 76 years while females will exceed 81 years of life expectancy. The MSD Manual Consumer Version has much more information on life expectancy and normal aging.
Our parents are going through major life changes which began when we left home. Continued changes include career transitions, retirement, health challenges, losing loved ones and losing their independence. Helping them stay at home is a great way to avoid a major change. It is how they respond to the many changes and challenges that is the key to aging well.
It is tough to cope with change at any age, but how we assist them and how they respond to these challenges is the key to aging well. Guiding mom's attention to the positive aspects of her situation and away from focusing on the negative can help her shape a healthier outlook on life.
Aging individuals can remain healthy and continuously reinvent themselves as they pass through various landmark ages such as the 60s,70s, 80s, and older. Adding new hobbies, making new friends and utilizing modern technology can significantly improve your loved one's quality of life. This is often easier said than done, but positive change can reduce the negative effects of other life changes.
Aside from learning how to adapt to all sorts of changes, aging in a healthy way means they will need to find joy in staying socially and physically active. Helping our elderly stay connected with loved ones and other like minded folks in their community is a good start. Adult day care centers and community centers with activities are great ways to get our parents to be more socially active, while providing a much needed break for you as caregiver. This can help you avoid caregiver burnout.
All too often, our parents experience fear and anxiety as they age in place. These emotions are not easy to deal with even in the best of times. They may face questions such as:
These are all real concerns for the aging that we need to be aware of. Many of the fears that are conjured up in our loved one's minds originate from known misconceptions about aging. On the contrary, people are stronger and more resilient than they give themselves credit for. Reminding mom of the many changes and challenges she has already overcome can help her know that she can face what is ahead.
Everyone experiences mood swings and bouts of depression, regardless of age, our parents are no exception. When having a great day, she may be joyful, and on other days the stress may be too great. Reminding them that "this too shall pass" can help to reduce the feelings of permanence often associated with current emotional states.
Ask mom to make a list of 5 things she is truly grateful for. A daily gratitude practice has been shown to raise people's baseline level of happiness. There are also many other benefits including:
Encourage her to express how she feels: It is not considered a weakness to show others how you feel at any given time. Hiding your feelings can result in depression, resentment, or anger. Suggest a healthy way to process how she feels by writing in a journal or speaking to you or someone else close to her.
Help her accept what she cannot change: Many of the things we face are beyond our control. Instead of stressing out about these, help her focus on what she can control. Developing a good sense of humor and learning to react favorably to any problem coming your way will help as well.
Point out the bright side of difficulties: When she is faced with what seems to be a major challenge, look for opportunities that will help her grow and let her know that if mistakes are made along the way, they can be learned from.
Do not sweep hard to deal with challenges under the carpet: Pretending something didn't happen is often the easiest way out. The problem is that whatever y'all are facing is not going away. Rather take one small step at a time and work through each issue as it will boost each of your confidence and demonstrate the tenacity to deal with anything that may come along.
As your aging parent becomes a bit more dependent on caregivers, bear in mind that a primary ingredient for aging healthily is to continue finding joy and meaning in everything. Her life will change with age as all of ours will, but resisting change makes it so much worse. She will need increased assistance with ADLs in time, but being thankful for assistive devices, new techniques and physical help can keep the joy in necessary activities of daily living.
Some folks may think aging in place only refers to modifications to your physical environment to accommodate mobility issues, but this is only part of making aging care work. There is a distinct need to find support systems for other areas that will affect the quality of life of your elderly parent and making it feasible for helping the elderly age in place and staying out of the medical system.
Other aspects include transportation, healthcare, housekeeping, and meals.
Fortunately, nearly every county in the U.S.A has a network of aging care services that allow seniors to age comfortably at home. Traditional services you will find include; senior care centers that offer social engagement, visiting nurses, and delivered meals.
Furthermore, in certain communities, service providers like house cleaners, landscapers, handypersons, and dog walkers offer their services at a reduced rate for seniors. For assistance in this regard, you may want to refer to the National Aging in Place Council.
What about professional in-home care for the elderly? Below are some options in this regard.
Your loved one may require one-on-one care as you do not have a large family network to depend on for helping out in caring for the needs of your elderly parent. In this case, it would make sense to hire a professional caregiver. Or if you are the primary caregiver, respite care for the elderly may be needed so you can take a break.
Different types of home care:
The best advice we can give you is to get in touch with a professional in-home care agency who will take care of on-the-job training and supervise the person whom they hire for this position. Independent contractors can be sourced through an in-home care registry.
Another way to get hold of a trusted in-home caregiver is through word of mouth. However, if you hire someone independently, you are solely responsible for the screening procedure and taking care of the tax withholding system set up. Ensure you have insurance, too, in the case of on-the-job injury.
Would you like to learn how much you can expect to pay for the services of an independent caregiver or caregiver agency? Check out Genworth's Cost of Care Survey tool to help you calculate the costs of long-term care in the U.S.
While there may be certain limitations to aging care in home, you can always make use of other programs such as adult daycare services.
One of the best ways to keep loved ones safe and busy at the same time is through adult daycare programs. They provide supportive supervised environments for individuals with dementia or anyone who is unable to care for themselves.
Some adult daycare facilities offer door-to-door transportation and also hot meals that your loved one gets to enjoy when socializing with other elderly ones. Additional activities they may offer include; painting, trivia games, chair exercises etc.
The cost to belong to a place like these varies from $25 to $100 a day. It is a case of researching various adult day programs to find what works for you. Some of these facilities offer a sliding fee scale for people with a limited budget.
Purchasing, buying, and cooking meals can be very time consuming for the elderly. Needless to say, it becomes a huge issue to provide healthy and balanced meals for seniors for various reasons.
Many homebound seniors are not in a position to get themselves to the grocery store. They may also face dietary restrictions or an inability to chew and swallow their food properly. Often older people do not get the nutrition they need. According to the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, roughly two-thirds of participants were at risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Eating well is very important to seniors' health and overall well-being. This will give them the strength and energy to live independently at home. Eating poorly has various negative effects on one's health and overall quality of life. Seniors may not as motivated to prepare a nutritious meal for only one or two people. They often find it a challenging and settle for a less than adequate meal.
It is clear that the elderly who age in place need our full support and understanding. It requires forethought and proper planning to ensure aging in place is the right option for your senior loved ones, both in terms of cost savings and their individual preferences. When done right, it can be one of the best ways to help your loved one's age with comfort and dignity.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!