How To Age Safely at Home: What Steps Should Seniors Take?

Jun 6, 2023 | Aging Life Care

By Jackie Tangires, LCSW-C, Certified Aging Life Care Manager

Deciding to remain in your home as you age is no easy task and requires much thought, discussion with family, consideration, and soul searching.  How do you decide what is best for you and your family? Use the following steps to help you actively develop a plan to help you safely age at home.

Where do I Start?

There are many important factors to consider when making the decision to remain in your home as you age.  Start with, “Is my current home safe for me to remain here?”.  This means that:

  • You can enter and leave your house by yourself, or with the help of others without putting yourself or others at risk.
  • Your home meets your needs in all areas, and you have the help needed to remain here.
  • You have the necessary safety features in your home. Examples include:
    • Working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Rails or banisters on ALL stairs.
    • Dependable landline or cellular phone service in case of an emergency.
    • Dependable electricity for the refrigerator.
    • Clean, running water, and no major plumbing issues.
    • Bathroom accessibility that would accommodate a wheelchair (should you need one) and bathroom grab bars.
    • Your home is structurally sound and not in need of significant repairs.

If you answered “NO” to any of the above questions, you have some homework to do to stay safe, maintain accessibility, and care for your needs.   

What Are Your Care Needs?

In addition to the above, you need to think about your personal care needs, such as:

  • You have provisions for grocery shopping and meal preparation.
  • You have transportation available to get to doctor’s appointments.
  • You can keep track of and pay your bills on time.
  • You can take your medications as directed and keep them secured.

Determining your care needs also involves honestly assessing your current situation.  Do you have a viable plan in place if you are unable to care for yourself?  Consider the benefits of an active support team to assist you as you age.  There are several types of care: 

  • Companion Care. A caregiver who can assist with errands, keep you company, prepare a meal, or perform light housekeeping.  (No hands-on care).
  • Personal Care. A caregiver who can help you with your daily care needs and provide hands-on care, i.e., physical assistance with bathing, dressing, or feeding.
  • Respite Care. Temporary care that you or your family can hire for a designated period to provide for all your needs, whether at home or in a designated facility.

What about Housing Alternatives?

Consider the housing alternatives if you are not able to live safely in your current home.  Think about a place to move that is more appropriate so that your health, wellbeing, and safety are met and optimized.  Many people may welcome the positive change of moving to one of the different housing options available in many communities. There are appropriate places out there for everyone!

  • Senior Housing. An apartment-type dwelling that provides safe accessibility to the community.  Payments are made monthly like a typical lease.  There are elevators, secure front doors, laundry facilities either in each apartment or in a central place in the building.  Many senior housing facilities have arranged meal provisions with local government agencies, but this is something you will want to verify.  Neither medical nor personal care is provided by the facility.
  • Assisted Living. This is a living arrangement where your needs are evaluated by a nurse, and a plan is developed based on this information.  The monthly payment is determined by a base amount for your living space, such as a studio apartment or one-bedroom apartment.  Then, the amount of care you need is factored into the cost.  Of course, the more care that you need the higher the monthly cost.  All meals, personal care, medications, housekeeping, activities, and transportation are provided. 
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). All levels of care are available with independent living, progressing to assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing and nursing home care.  Most of these facilities require you to enter at the independent level of care, with the assumption that you will move to different living arrangements as your care needs increase.  Most CCRC’s offer support to the independent resident, including meals and facilities for laundry, housekeeping, activities, and access to healthcare, but it is independent, so you oversee your own health care needs.  Keep in mind that CCRC’s typically have a larger up-front deposit and that your monthly costs will increase as you move to a higher level of care. 
  • Memory Care. If a diagnosis of Dementia or cognitive decline has been issued from a trusted physician, you will need an option for Memory Care.  Services are available both in the home and in a supported living environment.  These services are tailored to the individual and trained caregivers keep residents socially engaged and mentally active to help maintain a high quality of life.   

As you can see, there is a lot to think about as you navigate this stage of life. 

Preparing now and using the resources available to you is the best way to ensure you have a graceful and safe aging experience.  

If you would like additional information on any of these options, or to learn more about individual assessments for Activity of Daily Living, Instrumental Activity of Daily Living, cognitive assessment, or a thorough safety evaluation of your current home, please contact The Option Group today.  Our trained Care Managers are here to help!