Helping Mom and Dad Remain At Home

Helping Mom and Dad remain at home

My mom is in her 80s and seems to be having more trouble living independently. My siblings and I would like to see her move somewhere with care (like an assisted living facility), but she refuses, saying she wants to stay home. Is there a way to respect her wishes but also help us feel she’s safe?

Most seniors, when asked, say they want to remain at home as they age (also known as Aging in Place).
And that starts by asking some tough questions.
• Do dementia, physical or mental health limitations affect your mom’s ability to live at home? Can her health needs be met at home?
• Are family or friends able to provide the care your mom may require?
• Do you or your mom have the financial means – primarily savings and/or long-term care insurance – to cover in-home services? Medicare will cover some medical home health services, but it won’t pay for 24/7 care in the home, nor will it cover meals delivered to the home, homemaker services (such as cleaning and cooking), or personal care services (such as bathing and dressing).
• Is the layout of your mom’s home conducive to aging in place? Will stairs or the lack of a bathroom on the main floor affect your parents’ ability to remain in the home?
• Can your mom afford the home modifications necessary to be able to move about her home as aging affects her physical abilities?
• What kinds of community services are offered in the area? Are they affordable?
• Are transportation services available?
Preparing the home for aging in place
There are other considerations, too, particularly regarding the home’s appropriateness for your parents. Consider the following in preparing her home:
• Check door widths to allow for wheelchairs
• Make showers and tubs easily accessible; install grab bars and grips
• Remove throw rugs, especially in the bathroom and at the top or bottom of stairs
• Add or secure sturdy handrails on both sides of steps and staircases
• Make sure electrical cords are not crossing walkways or near water
• Make sure smoke alarms are in working order
• Install adequate lighting along walkways and stairways, especially during middle of the night trips to the bathroom
• Make sure exits and walkways are free of clutter
Helping Mom and Dad remain at home
Community support. Nearly every county in the United States has a network of services that allow seniors to stay in their home longer. Traditional services include delivered meals, homemaker services, senior centers, social activities, transportation services, and delivered meals.
Technology. Emergency Response Systems (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) was one of the first types of devices to help at-home seniors, and new technology is evolving daily to help even more. Older adults may be unaware of technologies, such as medication reminders, home activity sensors, and fall detection devices, which would help them remain healthy and safe at home.
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Bottom line: Helping your parents age in place requires planning, honesty, and the willingness to reach out to the services and agencies that are available to help. If it’s important to Mom and Dad to remain at home, then it’s worth the effort to start preparing now.

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