By 2040, the population of Americans ages 65 and up will increase by 123% — from 6.5 million to 14.4 million people. Among this population, 90% wish to age at home. With the right plan, it is more than possible for most elderly Americans to age in place. Here are a few things to consider.
An essential part of elder care is companionship. It is especially important when it comes to home health care. Socialization is pretty much a given in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. That is not always the case when seniors opt for in-home care.
Professional caregivers can help. Caregivers can provide companionship by preparing meals and sitting down to share them with seniors, driving seniors to and from medical appointments, accompanying them while shopping, walking with patients, or tagging along for meaningful or recreational activities, like worship activities, gardening, or fishing. Planning ahead for companionship is absolutely necessary. According to the Health Services & Resources Administration (HSRA), “43% of seniors feel lonely on a regular basis” and that loneliness can have lasting negative impacts on health — negative impacts that are more damaging than smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
Mishandling medications can result in emergencies and unexpected hospitalizations. In order for seniors to age in place, they must have a reliable plan to manage their medications. Here are a few things to consider when making that plan:
- Talk to your doctor. Many aging Americans take multiple medications. If you or your loved one is taking so many they are becoming difficult to manage, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to whittle down your list of medications. Some medications serve similar purposes — similar enough purposes to reduce the number of medications you are taking. Some symptoms may be managed with diet and exercise instead.
- Work it into your routine. Get up and take your meds. If you need to take medication with a meal, take medications with the same meal — right after breakfast or right before lunch — every day. Establishing a routine will help keep you on track.
- Work with your caregiver. Medications are an important part of senior care. Any nurse or caregiver that visits you in your home will have experience administering medications and reminding patients to consistently take them. If you need their help remembering your prescriptions, be open and honest about it. Work with them to come up with a plan.
A Plan To Maintain Your Physical Well-Being
Maintaining your physical health as you age is a must. Exercise strengthens bones, prevents falls, decreases dementia risks, and improves heart health. Establish a regular exercise routine. A home health care aide can help you determine what activity most suits you. Even light activity like walking, gardening, and cleaning provide benefits. A caregiver can help you adapt exercises and workouts to your abilities. For example, you can modify exercises using foam yoga blocks or even workout while sitting in a chair.
Finally, make some modifications around your house to ensure your safety. Install grab bars near the tub, shower, and toilet. Grab bars are especially important in rooms where you are most likely to fall. Similarly, prevent falls by reevaluating your flooring. Carpets are typically best. “Carpet should be securely attached and no more than a half an inch thick,” Consumer Affairs advises. If you are opting for home health care instead of residential living, consider installing slip-resistant tile in your bathroom or coating bathroom tile with a slip-resistant coating.
Aging in place can do wonders for your mental health. Retaining a sense of independence helps people maintain mobility longer — and ultimately live longer happier lives. Ensure that you or your loved one can stay in place as long as possible with the right home health care and a carefully outlined plan.