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.

 

Want to learn specific ways customized solutions can help you? Get A Free Assessment From SimplyHome

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Will baby boomers save the world?

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 11.51.45 AMLinda and Richard Eyre write “We can save them directly when they are our children and grandchildren, and we can save them indirectly when we use the last third of our lives to positively impact some aspect of their world.”

Spending time with grandchildren has been shown to fight against Alzheimers (read here), but can it save the world? Linda and Richard Eyre say that it sure can and it might be the best way to use the years after retirement.

Will baby boomers save the world? 

By Linda and Richard Eyre- For the Deseret News

As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago in this column, the baby-boom generation numbers over 80 million Americans who are all now in their 50s and 60s. What responsibility does this generation have to the rest of the world? It’s a question all of us in that generation should ask ourselves.

Our parents and grandparents were called “the greatest generation” because they fought and won World War II and then built the industrialized world. They were the builders and the givers while we, their children, are often thought of as the inheritors and the takers.

And there is no question about it — we baby boomers were the recipients of the post-war prosperity and were raised with more privilege, possibility and potential than any previous generation.

The question is, after being the 50- and 60-year beneficiaries of the opportunities and options we inherited, what will we give back to the world? And what will we do with the 20 or 30 extra years that no previous generation has had?

Read more here about the potential baby boomers have to save the world.

Early Detection Screen for Dementia

The National Task Group (NTG), involving SimplyHome’s Cameron Kempson, has unveiled a screening for people with intellectual developmental disabilities who are at risk for dementia. Summer 2012, the NTG piloted the test with seven sites completing an evaluations of the instrument.

The Early Detection Screen for Dementia is now available as an interactive PDF form. The answers can be recorded on the electronic version of the PDF and then saved electronically. The NTG wanted to promote an easy-to-use method of reliably screening and detecting dementia. They wanted the screening to be usable by paid professionals as well as caretakers. Minimal orientation or training is needed in order to conduct the test and it is easy to track changes over time.

The NTG-EDSD is also being used to identify dementia-like symptoms in people whose function and behavior may be caused by other health issues including medication interactions, depression, etc. Using the NTG-EDSD, caregivers are able to record and track changes over time in areas such as cognitive functioning and ability to adapt to new environments and experiences. While this is not something that is used to diagnose dementia, it is helpful to use as a conversation starter with other family members, caregivers and medical professionals.

Former First Lady Discusses Aging

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Listen to what Former First Lady Laura Bush has to say about aging gracefully, her worries of aging and what she is doing to keep her mind sharp.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/15/aging-survey-research/11921043/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories&utm_reader=feedly

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.