Cape Cod is a popular place to retire to. Its beautiful shores and slower pace of life make it a wonderful home for senior living. However, if you or your loved one intends to ‘aging in place’ it’s there are some important safety precautions that should be taken into consideration.
If you or a loved one are planning on living in a house or apartment in the twilight years of their lives you should:
- Make the home safe to move around in
- Use the latest safety technology
- Get the proper support
In this article, we will look into how to keep a senior at home and happy for as long as possible. Additionally, we will provide some resources to help with the financial burden of aging in place.
Making the Home Safe to Move Around in While Aging in Place
The best way to keep a senior safe while aging in place is to make the home hazard-free. Aging skin and decreased bone density can make a fall physically and financially detrimental to a senior.
A few simple modifications can go a long way in making the home more accessible and safer for seniors living alone. These include:
- Remove trip hazards – electrical cords, low tables, and items scattered on the floor can be cause for disaster. If there’s anything in the house that could cause a fall either remove it or rearrange it so it’s not in a dangerous spot.
- Remove area rugs – While area rugs are stylish and add a pop of color to the room, they also have a tendency to slide around on the floor. It’s best to only use secured carpeting in elderly homes.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom – Showers and bathrooms can be extremely slippery. Install grab bars so that seniors have something to hold onto when taking a shower or standing up after using the toilet.
- Use nonslip mats – If your senior insists on having a mat to keep dirt out of the house, make sure you use nonslip mats. It’s a good idea to install a nonslip mat designed for the shower as well.
- Check thresholds – Raised flooring between rooms is a significant safety hazard for elderly individuals. Either have the threshold flattened or install a small ramp between rooms.
- Install handrails outside – If there are steps in the garage or the front yard install handrails for seniors to hold on to. While one or two steps may not seem like a big deal, icy or wet conditions can make these extremely hazardous.
- Rearrange cabinets – It’s best for a senior to not have to use a step stool or reach for commonly used items. Rearrange cabinets so that the most commonly used items are easily accessible.
- Install additional light switches – Going up and down stairs when forgetting to turn off the lights can be exhausting and dangerous to seniors. Install two-way light switches at the top and bottom of each set of stairs.
- Provide a clear path to the mailbox – Going to get the mail may be one of the only times seniors leave the house during the day. Make sure that there is an easy clear path to the mailbox. Add ramps if necessary.
These are just some of the modifications you can make to the home safer for seniors aging in place. Individual homes or special situations may require additional modifications. The safer the home is, the longer a senior will be able to stay there.
Using Safety Technology While Aging in Place
Technology and the elderly aren’t always synonymous. However, there is an entire market geared towards senior-friendly technology meant to keep individuals aging in place safe.
Some useful technology that can be used while aging in place includes:
- Medical alert devices – A fall or a medical emergency are the two biggest concerns with seniors living at home. Devices like LifeAlert provide easy access buttons that can be used when emergencies do happen. They are often wearable, and some devices even have a fall detection sensor.
- Senior-friendly phones – A senior aging in place may not need the newest iPhone, but they need to have a phone that they know how to use. Most networks have a phone that just has basic calling capabilities with large, easy-to-push buttons.
- Smart home devices – smart home functionality is great for seniors. If used properly you can automate turning on and off the lights, making a pot of coffee, and controlling the television.
- Telehealth – we live in an age where you don’t need to even leave your house to see a doctor. Giving seniors aging in place access to telehealth services is a great way to give them 24/7 access to doctors without needing to go anywhere.
- Security system – If a senior is living at home along a state-of-the-art security system is essential. Cameras, sensors, and secure locks can help ease the fear of getting an unwanted visitor.
The elderly should not shy away from new technology. It’s designed to make life easier and can often keep them out of nursing homes for much longer.
Getting the Proper Support While Aging in Place
Seniors aging in place often need help with one or two things around the house. They are mostly self-sufficient, but a little professional help can go a long way in improving the safety and quality of life for seniors living at home.
If your loved one is struggling with a few household tasks consider hiring one of the following professional services:
- Cleaning services – cleaning services can be very versatile. You can hire someone to come in every day to help do the dishes and straighten up. Alternatively, you can hire someone to come in every couple of weeks to dust or clean those hard-to-reach places.
- Money management –Whether it’s simply hiring a tax professional to do their annual tax forms or a hands-on accountant to keep track of spending and bills, money help can go a long way.
- Meal delivery – The kitchen can be a dangerous place if a senior is forgetful or clumsy. There are relatively inexpensive meal services that can provide hot, nutritious meals to seniors daily.
- Personal care – If a senior is neglecting personal care, it might be time to look for other living arrangements. However, you can hire a trained aide to provide basic personal care services if you are looking to avoid moving.
The level of support an individual may need while aging at home may vary. It all depends on their personal health and willingness to take care of themselves.
How to Make Aging in Place More Affordable
The expenses associated with aging in place can rack up fast. Modifications to the home, new technology, and support services can all be expensive.
Medicaid, Medicare, or health insurance can help provide financial assistance for any medical expenses, but what about non-medical expenses or expenses that these programs don’t cover?
The government has a ton of different resources to help provide financial assistance to those aging in place. Visit benefits.gov to see which programs you may qualify for.
Living Your Best Life
As people get older, making decisions on living arrangements can become increasingly difficult. Putting expenses aside, it’s difficult to know which living situation will keep an elderly person healthy and happy the longest.
Before moving to an elderly home, it’s important to explore all possibilities of making the aging in place the best option. Once you sell your home and move, it’s hard to go back to independent living. Technology, safety precautions, and support services can play a huge part in making independent senior living longer than you ever thought possible.