How to Age in Place Safely
While for many that’s the ideal, some family members rightly worry about how safe an aging senior can be when living alone in their own home. Aging in place isn’t the best solution for every senior, but seniors and their families can take a few steps to make it safer for those intent on staying in their homes rather than moving to a facility.
Here are five steps you can take to make aging in place safer.
- Make the proper home modifications.
The home that you’ve worked to make just right for years can become full of safety hazards as you age. As seniors encounter mobility issues and the ever greater risk of falls, the house as it’s always been usually won’t cut it.
A few home modifications to remove trip hazards and ensure the house is updated to be both more comfortable and safe for a senior can make a huge difference. Many home modifications are cheap and easy, like removing rugs or adding in lights to stair steps. A couple of bigger changes like walk-in tubs or stair lifts can get more costly. You can start with the smaller changes and then make a determination as to whether or not your senior loved one requires any of the bigger ones.
- Get to know your neighbors.
For both the senior and their loved ones, knowing the people who live close by is important. If you’re friendly with the neighbors, you’ll know there’s always someone nearby you can call on in an emergency. If your loved one has a fall and you’re a long drive away, you can give Suzy up the street a call and she can get there much faster.
If those relationships with the neighbors turn into bona fide friendships, they can work as an antidote to the loneliness that can cause serious problems for seniors that age in place.
And if you’re really lucky and find that a lot of the people living in the neighborhood are other seniors hoping to age in place, you may even be able to get the ball rolling on developing an aging-in-place retirement village that makes the aging process easier on all of you.
- Make an effort to maintain social connections.
One of the big risks of aging in place is how easy it is to become a loner. Once a senior loses the ability to drive safely, getting out to social events is really difficult. Staying in alone is the easiest option.
If a senior’s family lives nearby, they can make an effort to visit and help out. If you live too far away for that, then work with your loved one to help them create a plan for keeping up with social groups and hobbies. Maybe they can lean on car services like Lyft or get familiar with the local bus system. See if you can enlist family friends that do live nearby to help with rides, or see if they can find people to carpool with to shared activities.
Make sure you figure out a practical way for your loved one to get out of the house and be around other people.
- Hire help.
Don’t try to do everything yourself, or worse, be content with things not getting done that should. Luckily, you can now find a number of services that help out with many of the little tasks that get more difficult as you age.
From housecleaning to grocery shopping, a lot of the stuff that becomes unsustainable with age can be outsourced. Even all the tasks of daily living that assisted living staff take care of in a facility can be performed by in-home care providers that come to your home.
- Get a medical alert system.
If you’re still worried about how safe a senior loved one will be living on their own, a home monitoring system can help ease some of those fears. If something happens to your loved one, they’ll have instant access to emergency care. And if they start to behave in uncharacteristic ways that point to an issue, or simply don’t move around the house as much as usual, you’ll have an easy way to know about it so you can check in.
Aging in place is easier and safer to pull off now than it was in recent years past. With technology and the number of hired services available, your loved one can stay at home for longer without risking safety. If you found this article helpful you might also enjoy our 10 tips for making a home safe for aging.
If your loved one does insist on aging in place, take the proper steps to ensure they can do so safely. If you really feel they’d be better served by moving into an institution, take the time to do some research and find the assisted living facility or nursing home that’s right for them.