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.
1. 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.
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.
3. 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This tidbit of advice does not become outdated as people age.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.
4.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.
5. 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.