The Parents of "Baby Boomers" are Living Longer
We are living in a time where there are more elderly people around us than ever. The parents of our "baby boomers" are now living longer lives. In many cases where the care of our elderly is concerned, most would rather spend their aging years at home or "age in place". This is a term used when referring to them living at their home of many years or in an environment not equipped for healthcare, such as assisted living and independent living facilities.
Most seniors have a strong desire to remain in their homes for several reasons. Their home is a place of comfort and security. They prefer to be around the familiar surroundings, like neighborhood, family and memories. They also feel that they are in control of their lives to a certain extent. If they are moved away from home, they feel like they have lost control and are alienated.
Step One is Have a Plan
Essentially, there are three stages involved in setting up a successful experience for aging in place. This requires planning for mental, physical and the psychological changes that accompany the aging process. Knowing what needs to be done before the move, during the stay and after death, is very important to assure a pleasant transition. If your elderly loved one is being transferred from a hospital and decide that a nursing care facility is not an option, then the home must be prepared in order to accommodate their needs for living as comfortable as possible at this time in their lives.
Since, most homes are not normally built to accommodate the elderly, some adjustments must be made before the move. Hand rails or grab bars must be installed mostly for the bathroom. A hospital bed with wooden headboards and foot-boards would be preferable. The bed should also be positioned low enough for easily getting in and out. Chairs in the home must be designed for easy sitting and rising. The phones and doorbells should be enhanced with high and low frequencies. The appliances in use should have on/off buttons in colors that are easily detectable. Seniors with declining eyesight need their most used items labeled with larger print. Bright colors play a huge part in seniors being able to identify their belongings.
During "Aging in Place"
During the aging in place, an elder may experience subtle changes in their daily living activities. These changes may become critical and an in-home caregiver is necessary. Should you decide to take the role of caregiver, having a checklist will help you identify functional and practical solutions in providing the best care according to their needs. Working with a Caregiver Specialist or In-Home Care professional is also a smart move, as they can help you determine the level of care needed and what services will work best for your family environment.
You may also seek the services of an Adult Day Care service. They have certified and organized programs that offer family caregivers a respite from an around-the-clock responsibility. If you work, an adult day service could be the deciding factor in whether to keep your family member home or placing them in a long-term care facility. Both you and your loved one will be relieved to know that proper care will be administered with respect and dignity.
After the Passing of a Loved One
After the passing of your family member there are many issues to be addressed. Sometimes in addition to the natural grieving process, possessions and property have to be properly distributed or converted. If it were a room in your home, you will want to clean the room by opening windows, stripping the bed, cleaning the floors or carpet and painting the room. You may want to change the decor, but keep photos of your family member. Depending on your preference, you could transform the room into a guest room or office. In keeping the memory of your loved one alive, you may still incorporate a furniture piece that was their favorite.
As for the home of your family member, there are a couple of options. Resale value of the home may be quite attractive. If any debt was left behind, the proceeds will serve as payment. The home could also be rented to extended family as a source of income to the surviving family or preserved for another aging in place family member. Whatever you decide, consider what your deceased loved one would have preferred, if at all possible.