Whether you realize it or not, many of us will be in a position to make the decision for an elderly loved one if they should live in their home independently or be moved into a higher home care facility.
In a recent study by the AARP, 80-90% of gaining adults want to stay in their home as long as possible, as opposed to moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home care agency. The baby boomer generation is now reaching the age where they need to be aware of their physical needs and limitations.
Most of the adult children of the elderly that we speak to would prefer that their elderly parents remain at home for as long as possible. Although this is a great sentiment the reality is that having an elderly loved one at home creates a lot of stress on the family as a whole because there is a constant worry if your elderly loved one will slip or fall with no one to help or if they are eating a healthy meal.
Below are four considerations when you are evaluating if your elderly loved one can maintain a life at home.
1. Daily essentials delivered to the home. With the increasing use of the internet, especially given how many baby boomers are on it and the elderly, you can have most things delivered with a similar click of a mouse. This means that the elderly can have everything from prescriptions to groceries to home supplies delivered to their door. This is terrific because when the elderly can avoid the stress and danger involved with going to a store, waiting in long lines at the local market, and carrying the purchased goods back home creates a huge win.
2. Health Care Routines. As we age and become old, the number of medications we will take increases, and the importance of a routine on when to take them becomes critical. Many elderly adults require the daily task of taking medicine and /or checking blood sugar, which may seem inconsequential where there is no one there to remind you, but this is a very important task to remember to do if your elderly loved one wants to remain at home.
3. Emergencies. One of my favorite quires is “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” The simple fact remains that one out of every three adults over the age of 64 falls each year. This can easily become a serious crisis if no one is near to help or if no one can respond. This becomes even more of a risk when falls and acute medical events (i.e., heart attack or stroke) occur simultaneously. In these situations, each second matters, and being prepared is essential. We strongly encourage anyone over the age of 65 that lives alone to use a personal emergency response system.
4. Emotional Needs of the Elderly. Just like the elderly have physical needs that change, so do their emotional needs. As we grow older, companionship becomes an issue, especially when one spouse outlives the other. Feelings of loneliness and depression can have serious health consequences in the elder. Meaningful, purposeful, emotional contact is essential for an aging parent, and it does not need to be that complicated. Simple gestures, weekly lunches, or a listening ear can often provide the support that an older parent needs.
In closing, elderly parents are used to living a productive, purpose-filled life, as you are too. As their life changes as they age, it is important to encourage them and help them still participate in as many hobbies and engaging activities as possible. It’s all about finding ways to help nourish the body, mind, and spirit of an elder loved one.