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Aging In Place

Have you ever seen your home as supportive of your health and well-being, as able to keep you out of a nursing facility longer?

Sarah Szanton, Ph.D., and associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, says, “We see housing as a part of health care. What one can do is a function of where one lives, so the home is a place worthy of health-care investment.” *

Some research claims that even small changes in the home can keep seniors out of nursing homes longer, saving families and even the country millions of dollars.

Mortgage lender Freddie Mac came out with a study showing that more seniors are aging in their own homes than in previous generations. Technology is credited as one reason through automated medication dispensers and activity-monitoring sensors.

You may want to consider making home modifications now instead of waiting until there is a real need. Improved lighting, installing grab bars and using a non-skid mat in the tub and shower, removing loose rugs, keeping pathways clear inside and out; installing non-skid flooring, a second banister on the stairs, and handrails at all entrances are just a few ideas for preventing falls.

Doorknobs and faucets with lever handles are easier for stiff fingers to grasp. A shower with no step up, a hand-held showerhead, and a seat makes for washing yourself and cleaning the shower easier. Raising the toilet a few inches is helpful when getting up becomes difficult. Dishes and glassware can be stored on easily reachable shelves. And physical therapy can improve agility and strength.

You might consider what type of help you may need in the future, before the need is upon you. Are you having difficulty with personal tasks—washing your hair or dressing yourself? How about meal preparation, household duties, yard work, running errands? Will you need help with financial management, legal affairs? What about healthcare, medication schedules, doctor visits?

Often, friends and family can pitch in. For more difficult tasks, it’s helpful to have a professional resource in place even if you never have to rely on them.

Another option sprang up in Boston, where 11 friends banded together to form Beacon Hill Village. It’s a concept designed for friends and neighbors to take an interest in and support each other’s welfare. It offers greater feelings of well-being and provides the sense that they’re not alone, something so crucial for seniors. These “villages” of older adults have sprung up in 47 states with community services joining in to help meet their needs. **

The internet holds a wealth of information on “aging in place” and keeping seniors at home longer. Make your home more user-friendly, prepare for future needs, and you too could age in place. Most of us can agree “there’s no place like home.”

Constance Watkins

*See Forbes article: How Can We Keep Seniors in Their Homes As Long As Possible?
**See The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, September 9, 2019.

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