As your parents get older, they may face the difficult decision of where they will live as they age. For some people, a senior living community might be the best option, but this is not the case for everyone. According to an AARP report, 87 percent of adults age 65 and over want to stay in their own homes as they get older. This is referred to as aging in place, and if your parents will be aging in place, there are some important things to consider.
1. Address Their Mobility Issues
Mobility issues are important things to consider when making the decision to age in place. It is important to encourage your parents to be as active as possible. If they are beginning to have difficulty getting around, you may want to look into mobility aid devices for them, such as a cane or walker.
According to the CDC, one in four seniors 65 and over reports falling each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for seniors age 65 and older. If your elderly parent has stairs in their home, a stair lift would allow them to access the second floor of their home without further assistance, which can encourage their independence by preventing falls.
2. Evaluate Their Living Situation
The first thing to address in helping your parents remain independent is their living situation. If they have a large home, will they be able to continue to take care of it? Do they live near you or far away? For many seniors, downsizing to a smaller place in a more convenient location is a better option for them as they age in place.
3. Make Home Safety Modifications
As you assess your parents’ needs, it is imperative that you address safety issues. This is particularly important in the bathroom where there is a high risk of slipping and falling on a wet floor or in the tub or shower. If they have difficulty bathing, there are accessible bathing options that can help them. Walk-in bathtubs, shower chairs, handrails, and non-skid bathmats may help prevent falls and eliminate the need for assistance.
4. Employ Smart Home Technology
Smart home technology can provide convenience and comfort by allowing your parents to easily monitor and control devices in their home. Devices such as Alexa and Amazon Echo can allow you to control your home entertainment, and you can also control appliances and other electronic equipment using voice control technology. You can even adjust thermostats easily while you are away.
Smart home security allows both you and your parents to monitor the home to see who is at the door or even if the door is locked, which can bring you peace of mind when you are not there.
5. Manage Their Medications
Aging in place often involves managing multiple medications. For some people, traditional plastic pill dispensers are all they need to ensure they are not accidentally skipping doses, but now there are other options.
One option is to have prepackaged medications marked with the date and time when you should take them delivered to your door, but if you like cutting-edge technology, you may appreciate the convenience of using a smart pill dispenser. These dispensers hold prepackaged medications that your doctor has prescribed, and they automatically open and deliver them to you at the correct time. These devices connect to medical providers through an online portal, allowing direct communication with healthcare professionals. Some devices will even provide reminders and reorder medications.
6. Consider Your Involvement
It is important to consider your own needs and abilities as you determine how you will be involved in your parents’ care. Do you live nearby so can you visit them regularly? Are you healthy enough to help care for them? How receptive are they to you helping them? How will you provide the care they need? These are all questions you will have to consider when deciding on your role in their care.
7. Get Outside Help
For some seniors, having someone come in to help with household chores, personal care, or meal preparation is crucial to their ability to remain a bit more independent at home. Though this doesn’t make the senior fully independent, it allows you to take a break from taking care of your parent and gives them someone else to talk to.
A caregiver may also be an option if you don’t want them home alone during the day and may also help prevent the loneliness and isolation that so many seniors experience when they are home alone every day. Insurance may or may not cover the costs of these services so you will have to determine if there are funds to pay for this outside help.
Aging in place may be a great way for your parents to maintain their independence in the comfort of their own home. If they decide they want to do so, keep these tips in mind to help you and your parents as you make this decision.