Seventy. That’s the percentage of people who are currently 65 or older that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime.
Obviously, that’s an incredibly high number – but what exactly does it mean? Should you expect to spend years in a nursing home? Assisted living?
While no one can predict exactly the level of care that they will need, it is quite possible to make changes to your home that will allow you to stay there instead of having to move into some sort of facility.
It is generally accepted that there are five basic stages of aging in older adults: independence, interdependence, dependency, crisis management, and end of life. Here, we’ll cover those stages and how they impact your ability for aging at home.
Also known as self-sufficiency, the vast majority of older adults choose to stay in their homes during this stage because, quite simply, they can. During the self-sufficient stage, seniors can generally handle pretty much all of their needs and affairs on their own, including transportation, finances, and regular daily living tasks.
While they may not need help, though, this is a good time for older adults to evaluate their living situation, plan for the future, and make any changes that seem necessary. The earlier you plan, the better.
Chores, cooking, and other everyday tasks become more difficult during this stage, and most older adults need more help. They are still able to do many things on their own, but typically not all. An interdependent senior is one who may need someone else to handle specific tasks (driving, mowing the lawn, paying bills) or could simply require a few hours of help each week to (largely) maintain their lifestyle.
If an interdependent person has a more able spouse, relatives, or friends, typically these people are able to provide all the help they need at the interdependent stage.
By this stage, seniors are largely unable to handle everyday tasks by themselves, and many experience a physiological decline as well.
This is the stage that most people associate with someone in assisted living, where meals are provided, medical professionals dispense medication as needed, independent traveling is often restricted, and staff members are present in the building 24/7 to help with any needs.
However, with the right advanced planning, you can still remain in your home by bringing in outside services, such as:
- Emergency medical alert and health monitoring systems
- Medication management solutions
- Caregivers and companion care
- Nutrition and meal planning
- Housekeeping and laundry
Crisis management and end of life.
By the time the vast majority of people reach these last two stages, they need more or less round the clock care, and possibly quick access to more robust medical facilities. Because of this, they tend to be in assisted living facilities or even nursing homes.
Depending on your particular health issues and desires for end-of-life care, some people are still able to stay in their home with visits from a hospice service and medical personnel.
Which brings us back to the initial question: how long can you stay in your home? The short answer: as long as you are able to care for yourself or have the necessary services in place to provide care for you. You also need to assure the property itself is safe for your aging needs. Key areas to address usually include your kitchen and bathroom.
A certified aging in place specialist can help guide you in terms of what changes need to be made to your physical property, as well as what services you may need to line up as you age. That way you can thrive in place for the long-term. Learn more about how we can help get in touch with Live in Place Designs today.