Getting older and losing one’s independence is never easy. For many older people, the move to assisted living feels like an acknowledgment of loss. Most would prefer to stay in their own, familiar home, for as long as possible. Do you know the best ways to avoid moving into assisted living? While for some people it might be unavoidable, it is possible to put it off longer. Here are the three most important things you can do:
Isolation often increases with retirement, especially for people who did most of their socialization at work. Isolation can lead to loneliness and depression. The Covid pandemic has highlighted the toll that isolation can take on mental health. There is also strong evidence that socially isolated older adults can have increase risk of premature death, dementia, heart diseases, stroke.
Some seniors do choose to move to assisted living so they can take advantage of the social activities retirement facilities plan. This is a reasonable decision, but for those who want to stay at home, it’s important to have a social life. To stay connected and social, (while abiding by health guidelines during the pandemic) follow these tips:
- Join a club, whether one associated with a hobby you have or something you never had the time to try. Book clubs, crafting clubs, etc, can all provide a new social network.
- Use video conferencing software to stay in touch with family members and friends that might be a distance away. While this is not as good as face to face, it can tide you over until the next reunion.
- Visit friends or have them visit regularly. In addition to improving your social life, this means there’s always somebody checking on you.
- Volunteer. If you’re still reasonably fit and healthy, you can find some way to volunteer. For many seniors, volunteering to teach and pass on their life experience can be rewarding.
- Take a course. You’re never too old to learn something.
- Travel. Traveling with a group can be a great way to make new friends as well as get physically active.
For most people, the move to assisted living is triggered by a growing inability to handle daily life activities. For example, as you get older, it can be harder to cook yourself a meal and clean the house.
The healthier you stay, the longer you will be able to do these things. Make sure that you:
- Exercise. Even a daily walk is enough. You might not be able to do what you could when you were younger, but staying physically active helps you keep the mobility you have.
- Work your brain. Do puzzles, take a course, learn a new language. The more active you keep your brain, the slower any cognitive decline will be.
- Take all of your medication and follow the instructions of your doctor.
- Eat healthy. For those struggling to cook, a frozen meal delivery service can be helpful. Ask family members to make extra portions.
- Moderate your consumption of alcohol.
Staying healthy and fit can keep you out of assisted living a lot longer.
Prepare Your Home
Your living space needs to support you for as long as possible, and this does mean making some changes. Some of these can be harder than others, but it’s a good idea to think of them while you are still reasonably healthy. Here are some things to consider getting or changing:
- A walk-in shower. Replace your bathtub with a shower with a low threshold, so that if you are using a wheelchair or walker you can still access the shower safely. Get a collapsible water retainer to prevent leaks. If you really don’t want to give up your soaks, consider a walk in tub.
- A shower chair. A shower chair can help you when you can’t stand as long, or when you are struggling to bend over. Younger people often enjoy having one too. There are many stylish options available now.
- Grab bars. Installing safety bars in key places through your home will help give you stability. Get some help with this so you can work out the best places to put it. Again, they’ve come a long way in style and often have multi-purposes, like a towel bar that also serves as a grab bar.
- Accessible entrances. A wheelchair ramp can be expensive, but can also make the difference between being able to stay in your home and not. It can increase the value of your home when you do eventually sell.
There’s all kinds of other things to consider, from lifts to a bidet that can make your life easier and safer and keep you out of assisted living. To find out how best to prepare your home for aging in place and about the products we offer, contact Accessibility Professionals today.