Tag Archives: Aging in Place

Alone at Home: Aging in Place

Aging in Place

The senior age comes with its own challenges and concerns. Being alone and aging in place at this stage is difficult especially when you have no one from the family there to offer you at least emotional if not physical support. However, we must always see the good side of every living experience and find the way in which to ensure a joyful road through life. Being self-aware of your current conditions and always keen on ensuring proper health for yourself is the best thing that you can do when you are alone at home and may not receive any help. Knowledge is power and the more you know about your challenges and assets, the more planning you can do and hope for safety and wellness in your golden years. Knowledge is power and hope is everything.

Also, turning to professionals to offer you advice and proper care in your own home is another solution that you can consider when the situation requires it. Older people should never be ashamed or scared to ask for professional support from those who can help them do what they cannot do anymore or simply help them keep their health and overall lifestyle in good conditions.

Living Alone at Home: Receiving Support from Specialists or Friends

Certain seniors decide on their own to live alone at home whereas others do not have the possibly to receive care in specialized centers. However, they also have the possibility to receive support in the comfort of their own home when the situation requires it. They may have someone visiting them every day to check their health status and offer support and advice for a healthy life.

Also, they can also have someone check on them less often when their conditions do not require daily support to ensure a proper life. It is all according to their needs and requirements. However, constant support is usually recommended for seniors living alone in their home. Sometimes, even a good word can mean a lot for them.

When specialized help is not possible, such support can also be offered by senior friends. They have the same age, a similar perspective on life and they can offer each other what they need in terms of emotional and physical support. It is always better to share life with someone else than to be always alone. Intimacy and privacy are also important in their life because they still want to be independent and feel free every day.

However, as much as we all need friends and support from time to time, seniors should also rely on their friends and spend time together as often as they can so that they might not feel the lack of human contact and emotions in their life.

Survival at the Senior Age: Relying on Yourself and Others

The elderly stage of life does not necessarily have to mean lack of independence or the inability of taking care of yourself. If you have adopted a healthy lifestyle up until now you are probably more than capable of taking care of yourself. However, certain health issues or concerns are inevitable at every age. It is then that you must go to specialists and make sure you follow their recommendations in terms of medical treatments and general activities that might keep you in shape.

Moreover, sharing your current living conditions and experiences with other people going through the same stage is essential. You may be able to help your friends with something they cannot do and they might offer you support in what you need as well. Sharing is caring at every age. Just because you are older now and may not have family members there for you should never mean that you must be alone. Reach to those who understand you as well as to professionals who work with passion in the senior care industry to get what you need in life at this stage.

The Joy of Living Decently when You Are Older

Joy should never be left out of the equation of life no matter what age we are. The same way we enjoy life when we are young when pure joy and happiness are all we know, we can also include this feeling in our senior stage of life. Our colleague Francis Edward from Forest Health Care, recommends: “…Make the best of what you have available now and make sure you live a decent life no matter what the numbers show in terms of age…”  and we add to that, do not hesitate to ask help from experts in your area as needed.

 

Aging in Place: Safety Tips for Your Kitchen

Aging in Place: Safety TipsBecause 90% of us do not want to leave our homes but to age in place, we need to pay attention to places like the kitchen that can be unsafe for us as we grow older. The kitchen is the heart of your home—and it’s also one of the most important spaces to remodel when it comes to aging in place. You’ll need to be able to make regular use of your kitchen, and the harder it is to access important appliances, locate your cookware, or even walk across the floor, the more dangerous it can be. Your kitchen can remain inviting and stylish while being loaded with accessibility features and convenience that will make it ideal for your senior years.

The Floor 

When it comes to your kitchen floor, you have to start with the floor plan. Make sure that it’s wheelchair accessible, with plenty of room to maneuver. Place cabinets conveniently, so that they’re close to the counters and stoves where they’ll be needed, but keep them out of the pathway so that it’s easy to move around them. Next, look at your food preparation areas. You’ll want to be sure that countertops are at the right height for use from a wheelchair. Adjustable countertops can make it easier for you to keep using them as usual until you need a wheelchair and make it more comfortable for others who might share in food preparation responsibilities.

Next, look at your seating. While you don’t want to clutter up your kitchen or make it impossible to get around, you do need to have readily-accessible seating to make food preparation easier. Make sure that you have comfortable, sturdy seats: you don’t want to have to rely on a bar stool if your legs get shaky! Leave plenty of room around the table for a wheelchair, but don’t skimp on comfortable seating, either. You can always move a chair away to make it more easily accessible later.

Your kitchen flooring is almost as important as the floor plan. First, accept that the cute rugs that you enjoyed in your earlier years are a thing of the past: they can lead to trips, slips, and falls. Next, begin your search for a kitchen floor that will be durable and slip-resistant while still looking great. Cork, rubber, and linoleum are all excellent choices for seniors, as are smaller tile that have more grout lines—see here for some ideas.

Lighting

 While aging eyes can be exceptionally sensitive to bright lights, you still want to be sure that you can see clearly enough to accomplish all the necessary tasks in your kitchen. Make the most of natural light: big windows that are free of curtains and blinds are ideal for the brightest possible room. Next, install ambient lighting that will illuminate the room at a comfortable level. A dimmer switch can help make it easier to reduce lighting if your eyes are feeling sensitive. You should, however, make sure there’s plenty of task lighting over the stove and in food preparation areas so that it will be easier to focus on your current task.

It’s also important to ensure that you’ll have the light you need when you’re navigating the room at night. Make sure that light switches are available at every entrance to the room. Consider installing motion sensors on the lights so that it will kick on automatically if you walk into the room in the middle of the night. If this is impractical, you can also put in nightlights to help provide some light if you’re just taking a quick trip to the kitchen.

Appliances 

The appliances you choose for your kitchen should reflect your changing needs as you get older. Your microwave, for example, should be simple to operate, with big, visible buttons that are easy to press. An electric stove with large dials and simple operating instructions is best, but if you do have a gas range, make sure that it has a pilot light and auto-shutoff feature. Your dishwasher should be positioned conveniently next to the sink. Consider installing one that’s higher off the ground to make it easier to load and unload as your mobility decreases. Senior-friendly sinks are shallow and easy to reach from a wheelchair. Choose a refrigerator that reflects your needs: large enough to hold several days of pre-prepped meals if necessary. Think about the layout of your refrigerator and where the doors will open as well as the shelves that will be accessible from a wheelchair.

Cabinets

 Organize your cabinets carefully so that they will remain fully accessible. Place items that you use most frequently in cabinets that are easiest to reach. Consider drawer pull-outs in cabinets that may be difficult to access from a wheelchair or as your mobility decreases. You should also make sure that your cabinets are shallow enough that you can easily reach to the back.

Accessories

 Knobs, switches, and faucets can be some of the most frustrating items in your kitchen when your fingers aren’t as nimble as they once were. Look for knobs that are large and easy to hold, switches that can be operated simply, and faucets that use one lever to switch between hot and cold to make it easier to adjust the water to the right temperature. Make sure that any labels on levers and switches are in clear, large fonts that you’ll be able to read even after your eyesight begins to decrease.

Your kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home. You need to be able to prepare food, eat, and host guests with ease. Luckily, there are plenty of products on the market that are designed with an aging population’s needs in mind. Take the time to think through your future needs now to ensure that when the day comes, you have a kitchen that will allow you to maintain your independence and age in place, at home where you want to be.

Home Modifications to Support Aging In Place

gero technology TO LIVE AND age WELL

LIVING WELL PIONEER OF HIGH TECH IN HOME CARE

Aging in place is a term used to describe a person living in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able, as they age. Most adults would prefer to age in place—that is, remain in their home of choice as long as possible. In fact, 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age.

The focus of aging in place is to help seniors ensure they can live where they choose and get any help they need for as long as they can. The goal of an elderly person (or anyone) wanting to age in place should be to maintain and/or improve their quality of life. In order to do that, a good plan that focuses on quality of life and covers your self, home, finances, care and other items should be created as early as possible. This plan should be maintained over time as your situation changes. This includes being able to have any services (or other support) they might need over time as their needs change, including safety monitoring, home care assistance, or home renovation, while maintaining their quality of life. Some examples of home modifications include: increased lighting, accessible switches at both ends of the stairs, additional railings, grab bars, nonskid flooring, a hand-held, flexible shower head, walk-in bathtubs, and the removal of throw rugs and clutter. In most cases, home modifications can be simple and cost-effective, while simultaneously offering substantial benefits to the individual.

We thank Liz Greene [1] for her ideas about home renovation. She proposes 5 home modifications to support aging in place. She said “…It’s not easy to choose which living arrangements will suit you later in life. So much depends on your health, mobility, and family situation. However, with the cost of senior living on the rise, many people are choosing to grow older in their own homes rather than moving into assisted living communities. Nonetheless, aging in place comes with a host of considerations, not the least of which is modifying your home http://www.ageinplace.org to accommodate your changing needs. If you’ve decided to stay in your home for the long haul, think about implementing some of the following modifications to make the transition easier.

Pull-Down and Pull-Out Shelving

Bending, stooping, reaching — these motions become harder on your joints as you age. Regular exercise can help alleviate pain and increase mobility, but it’s not a bad idea to eliminate situations where you’re putting more strain on your body than necessary. Installing pull-down and pull-out shelving in your closets and kitchen cabinets will allow you to reach out of the way items without having to strain or use a step stool. These devices are inexpensive, easy to install, and an almost effortless way to improve accessibility.

Grab Bars

Grab bars are an absolute must have if you plan to age in place. Install grab bars next to the toilet to provide balance while sitting down, give leverage when rising from a seated position, and help transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet seat and back. Place them next to the bathtub and in the shower to help maintain balance while standing or moving, assist in maneuvering into and out of the enclosure, and help reduce slips and falls. Put in floor to ceiling grab bars, or security poles, in the bedroom to assist in getting in and out of bed. While many grab bars tend to have an institutional look, some manufacturers are releasing newer models that are more aesthetically pleasing. This allows you to add stability and safety to your home without sacrificing personal style.

Walk in Tubs

Traditional bathtubs can be 20” or higher from the bathroom floor — clearly not designed for those who suffer from mobility problems. This is where walk in tubs come in. Walk in tubs offer a watertight door that opens so you can easily walk into and out of the tub. Most walk in tubs include a chair-height seat for a comfortable and secure bath and a non-skid floor to minimize slips and falls.

Curbless Showers

Curbless showers are designed to provide a safe and convenient alternative to traditional bathtubs. Curbless shower floors are flush with floors in adjoining spaces, allowing you to safely walk or roll a wheelchair into the shower without getting tripped up by a raised threshold. Curbless showers are a favorite in universal design as they are not only stylish, but friendly to users of all ages.

Sinks

Sinks can prove especially inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. Luckily there are accessible sink options for both the bathroom and kitchen. To provide space beneath a bathroom sink for wheelchairs and other mobility devices, install a wall-mounted sink. Wall-mounted sinks have no vanity cabinet or supporting legs underneath to get in the way. For the kitchen, consider a push-button, adjustable-height sink that gives each user a custom fit. The sink can be raised and lowered between 28 and 36 inches with the simple push of a button. This is ideal when you live with people with varied heights and mobility.

It takes some fore thought when designing your home to adapt to your needs as you age. However, if you do it right, you’ll find you’ll be able to live a happy, comfortable life in your own space, free of the cost and ordinances of retirement communities and assisted living centers.

[1] Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene

Aging in Place: Assistive Technology and Human Touch to Solve the Caregiving Issue

Aging in PlaceWe all know those smart and dynamic elders, who used to be professionals, hard workers, homemakers, very engaged in their communities, who slowly but surely, are aging with aches and pains and diminishing faculties, with some times chronic and debilitating diseases rising in the horizon. We all try to help them to little (or no) avail, since the response is: “I do not need help …I am not moving from my home…I am not going to one of those places full of old people”… Does it sound familiar? If you have an elderly parent or loved one in need of care and help, I am sure you have.

Many studies since 2007 have focused on Aging in Place and what seniors and baby boomers want. Besides being in denial of needing help, elders fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than they fear death, according to a study, “Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, which also found that the Baby Boomer children of seniors also fear for their parents. Boomers express particular concern about their parents’ emotional and physical well being should they have to enter a nursing home, finds the study, which examines the attitudes and anxieties of the nation’s elderly population. Although since 1997 AARP survey, we know (89%) of the interviewees answer they wanted to stay at home, and age in place – or live independently, but more than half of those surveyed (53%) are concerned with their ability to do so.

Some of the issues that force older adults out of their homes is not only illness and frailty but houses that do not accommodate their needs, isolation, and lack of support –we know our communities, sad to say, are not equipped with volunteerism enough to help some of these seniors or systems that protect not only the low income ones but the middle class, as well.

Projects like Capable in Baltimore, where volunteers come helping seniors run errands and reach the next community even that day while retrofitting their houses has proven to keep seniors at home longer. The project started as a major research effort in the Baltimore area called the CAPABLE project – it stands for Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders – is sending handymen, nurses and occupational therapists into the homes of hundreds of low-income seniors aging in place to see how far $4,000 can go in preserving people’s independence. The project’s initial success has captured nationwide media attention and piqued the interest of federal officials straining to hold down Medicaid costs. If it can be scaled up and tried nationwide, it could potentially save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars. The average cost of nursing home care in the U.S. is $6,700 a month, much of it paid through Medicaid, so even postponing a move to a nursing facility by just a few months can have a major impact.

Another well known solution but difficult to implement, on one hand because seniors resistance to technology, and on another because of baby boomers not turning their parents into it, is Gero-technology that can lower the cost of home care when needed and/or help keep seniors independently but safely at home. Aging in a high tech world is not easy for these seniors but there are agencies and resources in the community to help them and their families navigate through the maze of options and what is really needed.

These technologies go from the safety ones to guarantee people are safe at home, and monitor their comes-and-goes, as needed without invasion, to the tablets to communicate with loved ones, receive medication reminders, or access services in the community. Organizations like Living Well use leading-edge technologies to evaluate their members’ health and mental status, reduce the cost of care, communicate medical and other information to physicians and relatives, provide cognitive vitality programming and monitor personal safety. When needed, they will evaluate the layout of the home and undertake modifications to ensure mobility, access, and security. In addition, our professional housekeeping and maintenance staff keep our members’ homes updated, clean, and impeccably maintained.

Just today, May 4, 2015 California Health launched a report discussing the caregiving issue and if really this technology involving social networking and technology will “…save the day for one of America’s most intractable social problems — caring for the country’s aging population? The article proposes a different way of hiring caregivers but still posits the issue of just having a caregiver. One size does not fit all and for some of our loved ones just low-tech or high tech intervention can save the day. Now if in need of home care, options are there with agencies as the article states charging more than what a privately hired caregiver could cost but no- back up, or services that will monitor the process for you, and more. Read the article.

In reality, the high tech and high touch is a better answer. It is not only technology but the human connection what makes a real answer: personal services and advanced assistive technology can add a strong measure of comfort, convenience and control to those that desire to remain at home but have conditions that may limit their ability to move freely, communicate effectively or otherwise navigate their environment. Together they can ensure and encourage those that desire to age in place the opportunity to do so with safety and choices for the seniors and peace of mind for family members and friends. Check all the options and remember one size-does-not-fit all.

Areas of the Home Where Automation Can Help

Room Thermostat VaillantFor many of us, staying at home while living as safely independent as possible is the greatest challenge and simultaneously the greatest reward of aging well. Recently, we published an article about ways to make daily tasks easier around the home for seniors and in this post, we’d like to take it a step further and touch on the advancements of home technology.

Advancements in technology that may at first seem complicated can, with just a little understanding, become options that enrich and make living easier. Consider implementing these home automation features to the home that can help seniors not only save them time and convenience, but energy costs as well.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats, when given the chance, can help you control the temperature of a home, reduce your energy usage, and help you save significantly on annual energy costs. Not all programmable thermostats have the same features, so here are some key aspects to keep in mind when deciding which programmable thermostat is best for your needs:

  • Intelligent Learning. Your energy use at home may differ throughout various times of the day. Programmable thermostats allow you to use less energy heating or cooling an empty home or during dormant times such as while you’re asleep, then automatically alter settings based on your activity and routine. You will rarely have to adjust settings throughout the day because the thermostat will do the adjusting for you.
  • Device Operation. Surveys done in most recent years show that while majority of the population owns a smartphone, of those, seniors are the fastest growing group. So for those that have adapted to the convenience smart devices offer seniors, a programmable thermostat may be right up their alley. Most of today’s programmable thermostats also come with app-operated features, allowing you to receive alerts and adjust setting from the convenience of your own phone or device at just about any location.
  • Multi-Day Models Not all seniors spend their days at home; many may find themselves away for a few hours most days or for several days when travelling. We know that not everyone’s daily habits are the same, so air conditioning experts suggest multi-day models for those seeking to implement programmable thermostats. These allow operators to set a suggested schedule during the weekdays that differ from weekend. Whatever your natural routine is, there’s a model for practically every type of lifestyle.

Automated Lighting

For many seniors, it’s migrating from one side of the home to another that can be more of a task than it is for any younger adult. So the convenience automated lighting offers can help make the “flick of a switch” as easy as it sounds once again while simultaneously saving on annual energy costs. A relatively simple system can:

  • Switch interior and exterior lights both on and off without having to be in the same room. Most automated systems, similarly to programmable thermostats, are app or device-operated, allowing you to control the light settings in one area of the home while occupying another.
  • Prepare your home with scheduled light settings while away for extended leave. For those that travel, automated lighting can be the perfect solution to illuminate the home during your leave to deter any unwanted guests. And just as with daily light operation controls via app or device, this is also another feature that can be managed using a handheld device.

No matter how readily we embrace technological advances, there comes a time when problems can best be addressed with the help of skilled professionals. Most of modern day technology and innovation is created with the intention to make living easier and more efficient. By automating certain features in a home, seniors may find technology on their side to assist them in their daily living without the sacrifice of dignity or independence and add long-term savings in energy bills.

Home Gadgets That Keep Seniors Safe to Age in Place

Safety at Home26 OTIwMDMxOTA0NC5qcGc=By Glenn Jensen (*)

Ninety-five percent of people over the age of 75 say they want to spend the rest of their lives at home, according to Caring.com. It makes sense — who wouldn’t want to live out their retirement in their own home, surrounded by mementos and completely free? But it’s not always so easy for children who have aging parents set on staying at home. What if Mom forgets to take lifesaving medication? What if Dad falls and can’t get to a phone to call for help? The latest technology solves those problems, giving you options to preserve your peace of mind and your aging parents’ dignity and privacy. The best part? It’s less expensive than a nursing home (by far!) and gives your parents the independence they need to stay in the home they love.

Staying in Touch: Cell Phones for the Elderly

Some aging folks say they wouldn’t use a cellphone even in case of emergency, citing too-small number pads, difficult-to-hear speakers and other issues. But phones like the Jitterbug make it easy for aging folks to use a cell phone, whether they want it for regular use or just in case of emergencies.The Jitterbug offers bigger buttons, louder speakers and a straightforward monthly plan starting at $14.99 per month.

Medication Reminders

If you’re worried that your parents won’t remember to take their medications on time, there are options that can help. Automatic pill reminders take a variety of forms, from a watch that sounds and/or vibrates when it’s time to take medication, to a pill case that dispenses the right combination of medications at the right times of day and sends an alert to your email account if it’s not opened when it should be. Pill dispensers with alarms start around $50 through Med-E-Alert; they sound an alarm when it’s time to take another dose of medication.

Personal Emergency Response Systems

It’s one of the top concerns for people with aging parents: what happens if Mom or Dad falls and can’t get to a phone? With a personal emergency response system (PERS), your loved one will always have an emergency alert device, usually on a pendant, that will connect them with help at the push of a button. Lifeline Systems offers a no-contract system starting at just $30 per month.

Home Security Systems

What if someone breaks into the house? Home monitoring systems offer security and peace of mind for your elderly family. LifeShield offers packages starting around $30 per month for burglary and theft monitoring, environmental (heat, cold, flood), medical and carbon monoxide monitoring. Other packages include fire monitoring or video surveillance for even more security. If your parents are home alone much of the time, a home security system can give you peace of mind about leaving them home alone — and alert you if something goes wrong.

Glenn is a smartphone fanatic from Alaska who is always abreast of the latest mobile trends.

Technology To Stay at Home and Age in Place

Living Well Senior Care in San Francisco(From HUFFPOST 23 Sep 2013)

Dr. Ruth Bettelheim advocates for the use of new technology that would enable disabled people to live independently and elders to age in place. Dr. Bettelheim said,  recently on a post at the Huffington Post Blog the following: “…We’ve already waited too long to put the digital revolution to work for our most vulnerable. As a nation, though, we can do more to create new, affordable options for patients and their families.

At Living Well Assisted Living at Home, we have advocated for long time for the use of Gero-technology that will lower the cost of home care. Mainly in urban cities like San Francisco and the greater Bay Area senior care services and home care can be very high and prohibitive, creating a huge burden to family members and loved ones. Although as Dr. Bettelheim says “…there isn’t an app yet for keeping a mentally challenged patient safe in her own home with dignity and privacy. But national fiscal interest, moral integrity, and our own self-interest, dictate that there should be..” and yes indeed, these days there are many user friendly and low cost technologies,  to give choices to elders and peace of mind to family members.
The article continues also praising the possibilities that these technologies bring to family members who care for mentally challenged individuals: “…Recent technological advances offer the possibility of restoring independence and dignity to mentally challenged adults while easing the burden on families, for a fraction of current costs.

In a nation that values liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there are few greater tragedies than the routine incarceration of millions of individuals who suffer from mental disabilities, developmental impairments, or the debilitating dementia that affects up to 25% of our elderly population. However, recent technological advances offer the possibility of restoring independence and dignity to mentally challenged adults while easing the burden on families, for a fraction of current costs…”

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