The Beginner’s Guide to Remaining in Your Home While Aging

That day is coming. The day when our Peter Pan philosophy can carry on no more. Others age but we don’t, right? It is time to face the reality that aging is something happening to us all and we must plan accordingly. Some people associate getting older with retirement communities and loss of independence.  But do we really need to leave our homes? The answer is no. Not if you take time to familiarize yourself with the tools and concepts available to you today.

“Universal design” is a concept quickly becoming embraced among homeowners of varying ages. The idea is to start making simple modifications now to your home, enabling you to remain in your home when your daily lifestyle needs and routines change. The article “Universal Design for Every Age and Stage of Life” states the best time to think about integrating universal design principles and features..is “before a life change or emergency happens.”

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Statements like this make it all the more important to start being proactive with your future home modifications. SimplyHome is taking steps by participating in the Livable Homes Project with AARP and the Universal Design Institute. Richard Duncan, Executive Director of UDI says the concept is more than adding custom features to a home. The changes need to be packed to look good and work well. He took the time to answer our questions about universal design and explain a few things we should know.

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5 Things You Should Know about Universal Design

  1. Where do you start? Before making any changes to your home, the absolute first place to start is with an honest assessment of your home and your needs. Ask yourself, Is this the right home for me to age in? For example, should the need arise, would you be able to move your bedroom from the second floor to the first floor in this particular house?

  2. The Three Main Areas.  The three main areas to focus on in your home are the entrance, bathrooms and kitchen. Making entrance changes are the most simple and the best first move. You can start by adding handrails to the stair cases and improving lighting. A good question to ask yourself with the entrance is, Are the hallways and doorways wide enough to fit equipment through?  After the entrance, some basic bathroom changes could include having  curbless showers, adding a bench for a place to sit and having a handheld showerhead.

  3. Common Misconception. When you think of an added shower handrail to help accessibility, it’s easy to imagine it as an eyesore, a bulky feature completely out of place with the interior of your home. But universal design is more than custom features. It’s the entire package of adding an element that helps your daily needs, but also fits the style of your home. For example, a handrail can also double as a towel rack.

  4. Get the right advice. The first mistake many individuals make when implementing universal design is hiring someone with expertise in one room, rather than understanding the functionality of the house altogether. For example, advice should come from someone with an architectural or interior design background. Someone with home-design experience, who can understand your needs as they will change and envision how your home can grow with you.

  5. There’s Higher Functionality with Technology.  SimplyHome technology is, “A wonderful addition to keeping people safe and  independent in their homes,” says Richard. The higher functionality you have to begin with, the more effective the custom changes. Using SimplyHome technology helps you to avoid limitations with the changes you implement down the road. You want as many options as possible. SimplyHome environmental controls help you to adjust lighting in various locations of your home from a single location – a tablet. SimplyHome door, window and stove sensors, medication management, fall detection, and telehealth services, cover all your needs to remain in your home.

 

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For Today’s Retirees, There’s No Place Like Home

Aging in place is an ever growing idea throughout the baby boomer generation. As Dorothy said, “there is not place like home.” This rings true for people of all ages, but baby boomers are clinging tight to this thought.

See what people are saying about aging in place in this article by USA Today and Newsmax.

For Today’s Retirees, There’s No Place Like Home

(photo: Thinkstock)

(photo: Thinkstock)

American retirees these days are gravitating toward the notion of staying put and “aging in place” rather than moving to sunnier climes, new data show.

USA Today reported an AARP study found the overwhelming majority of people 50 years of age and over want to remain in their home and community “for as long as possible.”

Separately, a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey concluded 65 percent of retirees say they are living in the best homes of their lives right where they are.

“There is something deeply nourishing about our homes, and people become increasingly appreciative of that emotional connection as they get older,” says gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave. “It’s a rich emotional nest.”

Many retirees want to remain in their home “because they are most comfortable with what is most familiar,” psychologist Mary Languirand, co-author of How to Age in Place, told USA Today. “People are going to do whatever they can to maintain that sense of comfort. That is the ideal place in a lot of people’s minds.”

The Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey concluded a majority – 58 percent – are interested in new technologies such as cleaning robots, 80 percent are interested in tech-enabled efficiencies such as smart thermostats and 76 percent are interested in technologies to maintain their health, such as sensors, alerts and air purification devices.

Dychtwald says 52 percent of people over the age of 75 live alone.

“Technology can help people keep an eye on mom or dad,” he said. “The good news is that all of these breakthroughs are on the drawing board or already available, but they are waiting for the market to take more full advantage of them.”

USA Today noted AARP offers a guide aimed at helping consumers stay in their homes as long as possible.

The guide offers tips and suggesting ranging from simple do-it-yourself fixes to more expensive improvements, and also includes worksheets.

See the original article about what people are saying about aging in place here.

Planning cities for boomers will benefit millennials, too

This article provides a unique approach to the growing need to accommodate baby boomers. Millennials are defined as anyone born in the 1980s and 1990s. Millennials are often children of baby boomers. Many millennials are going to see the economic impact and familial impact of baby boomers. Richard Carlisle sees things a little differently than how millennials may be seeing the aging of the baby boomer generation. See the article below or click here to read more about Planning cities for boomers will benefit millennials, too.

Planning cities for boomers will benefit millennials, too

Will your community thrive or fail in the next 30 years? The answer, in part, is in how it deals with baby boomers.

The U.S. census tells us that the number of people 65 and older will increase by 50% in the next 30 years. In 2010, 13.8% of the state’s population was older than 65. By 2040, it will be 21%, and in southeast Michigan, it will be 24% — a quarter of the entire region, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).

This generation of Americans will be well-educated, diverse and fit. Many will be single. They’ll have fewer children and more living parents than their predecessors.

The characteristic that will shape our communities most, though is this: They want to age in place. An AARP survey reported that more than 80% of Americans age 45 and older want to remain in their current home as long as possible, even if they need help caring for themselves. Perhaps more important, if they cannot or choose not to remain in their own home, they’d like to live in an attached or small-lot home, ideally with a first-floor master bedroom.

Read more on Planning cities for boomers will benefit millennials, too

Help me, please; I’m a caregiver

Being a caregiver for an aging loved one can be tough. It can drain you physically, emotionally and mentally, but you do not have to do it alone. With the help of your community and assistive technology, it is a task that turns into something that does not have to be overwhelming, but will actually allow you to see your loved one without thinking about the bills that are piling up on the table or the fact that you are having to do this all alone because you are too stubborn to ask for the help of those around you.

Take a look at what one overwhelmed and, self admitting, stubborn caregiver has to say about community and asking for help

Help me, please; I’m a caregiver

By Nell Noonan
This story was originally published in Interpreter Magazine.

Why, oh, why do caregivers think they have to do everything by themselves? Is it our rugged American individualism or some kind of arrogant stoicism and pride that makes us believe our journey as caregivers must be a solo venture?

According to November 2012 statistics from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, I am one of 65.7 million unpaid caregivers for family or friends in the United States. I imagine that the majority, like me, have a hard time asking for help.

I was well into the seven and a half years of my caregiving odyssey with my husband before I stopped saying, “No, thanks; we’re doing just fine.” Truthfully, I was sleep deprived, depressed, sad, stressed and heartsick. Year after year after year, I watched a truly good human being suffer in excruciating pain. I also had a torn rotator cuff and bad back from physically assisting my 220-pound husband from bed to lift chair to wheelchair.

View the rest of the article here

Fend off Dementia and Make New Friends!

Check out what AARP has to say about fending off dementia and making new friends!

Friends Posing for Photograph

http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-07-2013/make-friends-boost-brain-health-photos.html?cmp=NLC-RSS-DSO-CTRL-061614-P1_H1-361836#slide1

5 Things You Need To Age in Place

The phrase “aging in place” has taken the baby boomers by storm. This phrase is so popular right now because people want live independently, where they are. People want to grow older in their own place; in their own home. For some, this is no problem. For others, it may take more preparation and thought. It is our hope that these tools will provide a better understanding as to what aging in place means and how it is possible in most situations.

 

Family_blog1. Having a sense of community is important regardless of age.

As people age, a sense of community becomes more and more important. It may be true that “it takes a village to raise a child,” but, it also takes a community to age in place. Community can mean a slew of different things.

Whether it is community with family that lives close, community through church, community through long time friends, community through a card group or community through home care providers, community is crucial. Social interaction among people and friends is one of the main factors for being able to age in place.

Community could include Meals on Wheels, church groups, and other community groups.

 

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 2. Time and time again it is proven that staying mentally and physically active are two of the top ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases often developed by aging individuals.

“Use it or lose it” has never been more true. Doing puzzles, basic stretching, reading or walking are just a few examples of ways to get the blood pumping, keep the brain active. Active aging is a surefire way to keep chronic diseases at bay and stay independent for longer.

Here is a great article on how and why you should start exercising.

The AARP Website has dozens of games to keep your brain active and healthy.

 

Fruits-and-veggies3. Mom was right; “eat your fruits and veggies!”

This tidbit of advice does not become outdated as people age. Actually, it is crucial advice to follow. Keeping your plate full of colorful, whole foods will help you get the necessary vitamins and minerals that assists in keeping the memory active that encourages healthy blood flow and that regulates the level of sugar and cholesterol in the blood. Watching and enjoying what you eat will improve your overall health and make aging in place more feasible.

The intake of Vitamin C and beta-carotene is especially important. These two antioxidants help fend off blindness, keep skin healthy, protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. These antioxidants can be found in carrots, broccoli, citrus fruits, kale, onions, peppers and other fruits and vegetables.

Examples of healthy meals can be found here.

This is another great resource with basic steps to eating healthfully.

 

telehealth24.New technology coming out all the time. Some of these technologies can help keep you at home and create peace of mind for caretakers.

Though technology can be new, different and appear intimidating, especially for the aging population.  Technology is often less expensive than assisted living and allows families to stay at home longer.

Technology can include medication dispensers, a personal emergency response system, and telehealth equipment as well as bed pads and stove sensors.  These technologies can be viewed here.

 

mother_daughter5. Discussing some end of life topics is often uncomfortable, but is very necessary.

Having a living will and a power of attorney is hard to think about when an individual is well, but it becomes a scramble if the individual’s health begins to decline.  This conversation may be awkward and uncomfortable for all parties, but will prove fruitful when and if the time comes.

A serious talk between the individual and the caretaker(s) about accounts, lifestyle, and potential transitions is imperative. It is important that both parties know the desires of the other and though all wishes may not be able to be accommodated, everything will be on the table and out in the open.  There are community and online resources available to facilitate these conversations.  Some of those resources include Council on Aging and Elder Care.

The Caregiving Worries of Parents with Special Needs Kids

If you are concerned about your loved one with special needs, you are not alone. Everyday worries are typical, but long-term concerns are sometimes overlooked. When those concerns begin to come to the forefront, they can be overwhelming, but you are not alone. Take a look at the facts and figures Sally Abrahms from AARP has and her advice and snip it’s from people who are having these thoughts.

The Caregiving Worries of Parents with Special Needs Children

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Written by: Sally Abrahms    AARP

Most of us think about taking care of our aging parents or spouse, not our kids. But there are more than 11 million Americans currently providing care for a family member between the ages of 18 and 49. Many worry deeply about their loved one’s future should something unexpectedly happen to them or their spouse.

“I worry night and day,” a friend told me. “What happens to my daughter when I’m no longer here?” Her daughter, now 27, has had neurological, physical and cognitive deficits since she was a baby. (My friend also has an older brother with schizophrenia. Fortunately, he is a veteran and receives care and housing through the government. But he is nearby and spends some weekends and all holidays with her.)

The number of Americans caring for younger people will only increase as the first wave of young men and women diagnosed with autism as children come of age. And there are many more behind them. While some are functional, a huge number of them will not be able to live independently and will need significant help. This will have an unquestionable impact on health care and caregivers.

See full article here

AARP Features SimplyHome-How to Help an Aging Parent

How to Help an Aging Parent

Use this guide to assess when a loved one needs a caregiver and what options are available

by: Tina Adler | from: AARP The Magazine | June 13, 2012

How to Know When It’s Time

Sometimes an elder’s need for help is sudden and obvious. More often, though, it becomes apparent gradually, experts say. So how will you know? Watch for changes in your loved one’s behavior, such as ignoring favorite hobbies, missing dates with friends, or forgetting to pay bills. Not every change means danger, but when a shift happens, it’s important to understand why, says Claudia Fine, an executive at SeniorBridge, a geriatric-care management company. So snoop, Fine advises. Tag along to your loved one’s doctors’ appointments and ask questions.

See also: Does your loved one need a caregiver? Use this checklist.

Once you understand the person’s situation, you can help develop plans, says Peter Notarstefano, director of home- and community-based services at LeadingAge, an association for aging-services organizations. Although you may not see yourself as a “caregiver,” that’s the term for anyone who looks after a person who needs assistance with daily tasks. AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center can help.

Staying at Home

Keeping a loved one in his or her house, or yours, can be challenging if your loved one needs daily help with some tasks. Thankfully, there are services to make it easier.

Adult day facilities offer meals, activities, companionship and some medical care. One popular program for frail people is the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). It’s free for those who qualify for Medicaid; others pay about $3,000 a month.

Service programs such as Senior Corps send volunteers age 55 or older to visit elderly individuals at home and provide companionship.

Occupational therapists can evaluate a home and its resident and recommend grab bars and other changes to improve safety. They also help clients develop strength and skills, such as balance, so they can manage more of their daily activities. Studies show that visits from an OT help older people stay in their homes longer.

If you and your family member want to live near each other but not in the same house, you can now rent a fully equipped, backyard mini-apartment that attaches to your home’s utilities. Some of these so-called assisted living structures come with monitoring systems.

Assistive-technology companies have products that can ensure your relative is safe. SimplyHome offers monitoring equipment such as motion sensors and GPS watches, and QuietCare (careinnovations.com) has a motion-sensor system that can learn a person’s daily patterns and send alerts when there is a significant change.

In some areas nonprofit support networks called Villages help older residents stay in their homes. Volunteers perform some everyday tasks, and the Villages also arrange for discounted services, from plumbing to nursing care. Annual membership fees are usually $300 to $500. See whether there’s a Village near you.

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