It is an unfortunate situation for many seniors in the western world that their final years are spent in relative isolation, estranged from their chosen community, and surrounded by strangers. Why has this become the norm? Surely this isn’t the best possible way to age? These are questions that are beginning to be asked more seriously in the field of gerontology – that is, the study of aging, and how to improve the experience of old age.
A better alternative to this old model, according to gerontologists, advocacy groups, and seniors themselves, is something called “aging in place”. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it is defined as the ability to live and age safely in one’s own home and community. Many people prefer aging in place because it preserves independence and dignity, but it should be undertaken with certain care and precaution. This post will discuss how to age in place, as well as some of the benefits associated with it.
How to Age in Place
The reason certain seniors choose (or are put into) hospitals or senior homes is for safety and lifestyle management. That said, in order to responsibly and successfully set someone up to age in place, those requirements still need to be taken care of. To do this, contact a professional home health care provider and develop a plan for in-home care. Here are three general requirements for happy aging in place that an in-home caregiver can help with:
Safety: This can be everything from medication management and wound care, to massage therapy, physiotherapy, and dementia care. For those suffering a serious, life-threatening illness, it is still possible to be at home, with the help of a caregiver specializing in palliative care.
Accessibility: You may age, but your home will stay the same. This might mean that certain daily items are hard to reach, that certain stairwells are difficult to traverse, or that certain items present a tripping hazard. You can enlist the help of an in-home caregiver to make your home more accessible. Likewise, an in-home caregiver can help with daily chores that might otherwise be taxing or distressing.
Sociability: If you choose to stay at home, make arrangements to remain sociable. Continue to see your friends and family, and, if possible, try to get out of the house every once in a while. In-home caregivers can also be a daily source of conversation and social connection, which can be comforting to those who are dealing with a stressful injury or illness, or those suffering from a terminal illness; resources like Integracare.on.ca/services/palliative-care really can be an important salve in times of pain and distress.
Benefits of Aging in Place
There are numerous benefits of aging in place beyond safety, accessibility, and sociability including a sense of community, a sense of independence, and comfort.
Aging in place allows you to remain within your chosen community, meaning that you can continue to see the people around you, with whom you have formed bonds over the years. It also means that you remain independent – with the help of professional home health care providers, you can still feel in control of your daily tasks and routines. Finally, aging in place offers a more comfortable alternative to hospitalization or senior home care, because people, in general, take more comfort in familiar surroundings.
If aging in place seems right for you, or a loved one, don’t hesitate in making preparations. Contact an in-home health care provider, and start the conversation.