Expanding the Definition of Independence, Wherever You Call Home

My parents expected to live out the rest of their lives in their beloved home, exiting “feet first,” as my dad liked to say. Then life happened. My mom’s osteoarthritis made it hard to walk and my dad’s congestive heart failure left him exhausted. They wanted to age in place, but they weren’t feeling happy about their current situation. We needed guidance to help them get a greater sense of autonomy and independence.

My parents’ dream of “aging in place” is shared by millions of seniors. According to an AARP survey, 87% of adults age 65 and older say they want to stay in their current home and their community as they age.

But making that work requires planning. Once they stop driving, can they get to medical appointments, shop for groceries, visit their friends, and stay connected with their community? If they need a mobility aid (i.e., wheelchair, scooter, or walker) or have trouble walking, can they retrofit their house? If they aren’t able to handle home repairs or yardwork, can they find in-home services?

Even seniors who answer “yes” to these questions might still choose to move. Why? Because maintaining independence is less about where you live, and more about how. “Our goal at Homespire is to help our clients live independently for as long as possible,” said Lori Maddox, RN, Life Care Manager at Homespire. “But if they’re experiencing a lot of falls, that might mean getting more assistance so they can stay out of the hospital—and keep both their hips intact.”

Some seniors are able to stay in their homes with the help of in-home caregivers who can provide medication management, assistance with bathing and dressing, shopping and meal prep, laundry, physical therapy, and transportation.

Download our free checklistFamily Planning for Aging in Place

Helpful strategies for staying independent

“Staying out of the emergency room is just part of the equation,” said Lori. “Living an inspired and independent life might seem out of reach for many seniors but helping them think differently about how they want to age is worth the conversation. We do this with the clients we serve, we care for them but we also dig deeper and discover what’s important to them to create life plans that focus on helping them reach their personal goals and stay healthy and independent.” Here are some of her recommendations for enjoying greater independence:

  • Stay curious.Find ways to keep learning and growing—it may feel a bit harder during the pandemic, but it’s not impossible.
  • Create healthy habits. Build a daily routine, like eating breakfast, taking medications at the same time every day, and having good hygiene.
  • Get active. Take walks, take the stairs, lift soup cans, dance to your favorite tunes—anything that gets you moving.
  • Purge the clutter.Choose those special treasures that bring you pleasure and get rid of what takes up space.
  • Clear a path.Remove tripping hazards on the way to the telephone, bathroom, and the front door to reduce the risk of falls.
  • Socialize safely.Stay connected on the phone or on Zoom, or if the weather permits, meet outside, wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance.

For more on this important topic, download your free copy of the Family Planning for Aging in Place checklist. To learn how Homespire inspires lives, schedule a free consultation or call us 24/7 at 801-503-3210.

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