Let’s start with a definition of Aging at Home and Assisted Living so we are on the same page.
Aging at Home Definition
You are living in you own home. You may be receiving help with meals, cleaning, even nursing or personal care, but the key thing that you are in your home.
Assisted Living Definition
A facility where you get living support. You will most likely have your own room or even flat with staff on site to help with your daily needs.
10 Ways To Delay Moving from Aging at Home to Assisted Living
So you have decided to make a go of it in your own home. It is time to get realistic and take action preparing for your future. Some of this advice will take time, some of this advice is tough. You may need to go through it a few times to get to where you need to be.
Why would you take this advice to live at home longer?
If you are a careful person and you currently have just a 10% chance of a serious accident each year, then it will be hard to get you down to only a 5% chance. However, this 5% difference can double the length of time you are able to stay in your own home. Potentially adding years of happy living.
Minimize Your Risk of Accidents
I believe that accidents are the number one reason elderly people are forced to move out of their own home. Sometimes it is also the beginning of a severe decline in health. Broken bones take longer to heal as you age.
Sometimes it is unavoidable, but often there are things you can do to minimize the chances of having an accident.
Go through your house and look for possible hazards. Here are a few examples:
- Do you ever need anything that is high up and out of easy reach – Take it down, either get rid of it (see below) or find a place where it is in easy reach.
- Look at your bathroom. Get a quote to install hand rails. Get a quote to change the shower to one without a step.
- Throw out or replace all electrical devices that have frayed or aged cords.
- Look in the laundry and consider your washing. It may be time to get a clothes dryer and ensure that your washing machine is at a good height for you to minimize bending and lifting.
- Look right through your house and look at rugs. Rugs are a major tripping hazard for elderly people.
- Remove rugs if they are not needed
- Consider a single floor covering right through the house
- Put anti-slip on any rugs that move or slip.
- Put anti-curl on any rugs that are not perfectly flat on the floor
- Look for slip and trip hazards. Does something leek in your house? Get it fixed.
Regularly Build and Maintain Your Contacts
Because you are reading this, I know that you are a determined, intelligent person wanting to have control of your future. The fact of the matter is that as you age, your older friends will start to slow down and eventually disappear (die). Your younger friends and family will always be busy. This does not mean that they don’t love you, it just means that they have their own lives and are coping with their own issues.
You need to actively seek contacts and routines.
- As long as you are able to, maintain contact with community groups.
- Contact your council and ask what groups there are in your area and what services they offer.
- Make a regular date with friends for dinner or coffee/tea/etc.
- Make a regular visit to the library
The key is regular. If you don’t have regular things lined up, then work on this today to slot some in. Replace those that naturally fall off with a new regular activity.
Make Daily Life Easy for Yourself
What tasks do you find difficult? Think about how you can make them easier. This might be washing your clothes, cooking, putting out the rubbish, doing the vacuuming, etc.
Vacuuming is a good example. Vacuuming is actually quite hard on the body, can you get help.
With the dishes, get a dish washer.
Stay On Top of the Basics
The basics are clothes, food, hygiene, taking tablets, mobility, safety and signs of neglect.
The thing to understand is that in many cases, it takes effort and how things look as much as what you are capable of.
Getting things done may take a little longer, but as long as you have things under control, people will support your preferred way of living.
Loosing control of the basics is a key reason for people to move from Aging at Home into Assisted Living. The pressure on you to move will increase if people see you are not able to take care of yourself. At some point, it may be necessary to move, but you can take control of many aspects of the basics.
The key thing is simplify, make a system or routine that works for you and get help early.
For example, you may not have used the freezer much in the past for food, but it is a great resource. Cook once, make small portions and freeze them.
Remember to ask people around you for help and tips.
If you are anything like most people, you have accumulated a lot of stuff over your active life which you simply don’t use anymore. Quite likely, some of it belongs to your family. Start the process of getting rid of it. Having less around the house will mean less dust, less cleaning and more space.
De-cluttering frees your mind of the unnecessary and allow you to focus on the things that are important to you now.
Aim to always have some empty cupboard space. This allows you to do a quick tidy before visitors arrive. Remember to clean up as soon as you have time.
Learn a New Skill
It might seem strange to start learning something new now. But studies show that you need to use your brain or loose it’s capability. If you want evidence, studies show that people who learnt a second language have delay he onset of Alzheimer’s by 5 years.
It may be tough, but go an actively find a new skill. Ideally, it will involve some kind of physical movement or change in environment.
You may not like new technology, but why not learn to use your mobile phone really well. You might find a local course that you can take.
Naturally you need to be aware of your changing limits, but appropriate exercise is likely to be a major factor in keeping you happy and healthy living in your own home.
Gentle walks, chair squats (where you hold a chair and squat and raise yourself again), push-ups, sit-ups. Whatever you can manage comfortably and regularly.
If in doubt, ask your doctor or local council for appropriate exercises. I would recommend against anything involving steps and aim to exercise your large muscles (arms, legs, stomach).
Record Your Legacy
Your family loves to hear about your life. But what tends to happen if you let circumstances control how you tell your legacy and experiences, is that your stories are more restricted. This is just because you are in a regular environment. The way to crack this is to focus on an area of your life then recall, retell and record those aspects. You may like to do this by telling people your stories or in a diary or with photos or in a scrapbook.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Do you remember when they made the firsWhat did you do before there were …
- What was it like when … happened
- What was it like in 19×0?
- Tell the history of each of your pieces of jewelry / cars / special travels / holidays
- Who were the people in your life and what do you remember about them?
Keep a Diary
A daily diary is an excellent resource as you age. Get into the habit today.
Get Clear on Your Transport Options
Being near public transport is great, but you may have community group activities that you can get involved in or community organisations who provide buses for shopping and other outings. Neighbours are good resources as are taxis.
Make use of each one at least once per year so if you need to make use of them, you have it lined up. Put the relevent numbers in your diary and keep a copu separately near the phone.
Buy Yourself a Pendant Alert System.
There are a number of different pendant alert systems. This one is a basic model, but excellent. Get use to it. Put a hook near your door and the charging station so you always know where the pendant is. Get used to wearing it all the time. Make sure you program it with at least 5 numbers and test it each month.
Aging at Home is a good option for many people and the time you spend in your home can be improved and extended with some extra effort on your part.