Your parents don’t want to leave their home; aging in place is the option they’ve chosen and the family wants to honor their wishes. There are ways to make aging in place a possibility for Mom and Dad and if the family caregivers band together, you can help your parents remain self-sufficient and independent for many more years.
Here are some tips for seniors and caregivers to consider if aging in place is the decision being made:
- Create healthy habits. If your parents are determined to remain independent, they need to have healthy habits and lead a healthy lifestyle. This means eating well-balanced meals, taking medications as prescribed, getting enough sleep, getting up and being active. Living alone means they need to take responsibility for cooking and eating healthy meals; if they don’t have the desire to do that, chances are there is an organization such as a Meals on Wheels in your part of the country that will deliver a hot lunch and a cold dinner right to the home five days a week. Even if your aging loved one lives alone, he or she must be diligent in self care and also about remaining active.
- Get their paperwork in order. Unfortunately, there usually comes a time when your loved ones may not be able to live independently and when that time comes, the children may become responsible for their parent’s finances. It’s best to have a family meeting to get all of the paperwork in order. Have a centralized location for the phone numbers for doctors, lists of medications, contact information for the attorney, bank account information, wills and other legal paperwork and insurance policies. It may be time to talk about Powers of Attorney with family members to decide who will make medical decisions if they are unable to make them.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Whether it’s winter or summer or anywhere in between, there is always a chance that the power will go out or some other event can occur that may mean caregivers can’t reach them or it become difficult to go out for groceries and other essentials. It’s best to stock up on supplies in the event of an emergency. Consider putting together an emergency kit that should include: batteries, flashlights, candles, blankets, matches, canned food, hand-operated can opener, bottled water and a well-stocked refrigerator and freezer will you’re your loved one survive an emergency situation until help arrives.
- Emergency contact. If your loved ones live alone and there is a power failure, they may not have access to a working telephone. In these cases a medical alert system, with up to 60 hours of battery back-up provide access to emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency or some other urgent need. These devices provide peace of mind for the entire family.
- Do a clean sweep of the home. Bring in the family and do not only a deep clean but age proof it as well. This involves moving items to lower shelves so your parents don’t have to climb to reach things. Adding grab bars in the bathtub or shower, removing any clutter that is in the walkways, making certain all rugs are secure with non-skid mats and adding motion sensor lights in dark hallways and rooms.
- Connect to outside agencies for assistance. If you and your siblings don’t live close enough to your aging parents that you can visit regularly, you will want to check into local services such as Meals on Wheels, senior transportation service and others.
Taking steps to make it easier and safer for your aging parents to live alone will make it possible for them to age in place. Start the conversations today!