Question: Recently my husband’s health has changed, and he is going to need to use a walker. Our kids think that means it’s time for us to move to an assisted living community. We really love our home and our neighbors, but is it smart to stay as he becomes less mobile?
Answer: What a blessing to have children who care about you. But the simple answer is it can be smart to stay, if you’re smart and make a plan.
First, let me mention that there are a number of wonderful things about assisted living communities, and if you’re finding that the services and amenities or safety and security they offer are what gives you peace of mind to live out your best life, go tour them and pick your favorite. If, however, you’re not sure you’re ready to leave your current home, having an environmental safety assessment, especially in conjunction with an overall comprehensive assessment (your local Aging Life Care Professional can do this) could help you truly weigh the pros and cons of staying or moving.
Also, you’re not alone. The desire to want to age where you’re familiar has been given the phrase “aging in place” and there’s a nationwide group called the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) whose mission is to bring professionals and communities together to champion aging in place through collaboration, education and accountability.
In addition to these councils, there are entire companies devoted to making environmental changes within one’s current home to allow for a safe transition into a new phase of health while remaining in the home you love and are familiar with. Sometimes it takes more than putting up a ramp and installing some grab bars in the bathroom to have the capacity to age in place for the long term. Sometimes it makes more sense to move.
Some key points to consider:
Types of adaptations: As described above, some structural or hardware related changes may be necessary. A few examples include ramps, widened doorways, lifts, grab bars and special lighting. Other changes or additions to your home to increase safety could include durable medical equipment (which in some cases can be covered through insurance) like a shower chair, a raised toilet seat or walker. Still other types might include technological adaptations.
These could have an article series all their own to explore further, but a few could include vitals and fall sensor apps/systems, medication reminder technology (developers are working on robots that do this!) and even a special electrical appliance monitoring device – for when the stove doesn’t get turned off.
Cost: With any pros and cons list, if you can’t afford the solutions, they aren’t solutions. You can hire a professional to do an assessment of your home environment and give you a written report of recommendations and cost of projects. This type of report is best analyzed in conjunction with or through a recommendation by an Aging Life Care Manager (ALCM), who is a third party and not selling any of the work/products. Your ALCM can assess your overall current health, financial status, insurance coverage, social support network, cost of care in the home versus cost of care in a facility and discuss the big picture as far as short term and long term goals to ensure safety and affordability.
Safety, health and quality of life: Whenever someone asks me about whether or not they should move or stay, besides cost, these are the three things I mention. It’s been a theme in points described above: safety. When considering the best environment, whether the current home to which you add adaptive features, or a new home that already addresses the adaptations you need, the goal should be to keep you and your spouse safe, but also healthy and happy! This means preventing falls, but it also means allowing for healthy meals – whether prepared by you in a modified kitchen, delivered from your favorite local restaurant/caterer or enjoyed in a dining room with friends in an assisted or independent living community. It means getting exercise (which we know helps with those happy endorphins), so that could mean finding a way to keep up those morning walks with your neighbor or joining the walking club within your new community. It means peace of mind, knowing that you can get a good night’s sleep because you aren’t worried a loved one is out wandering.
Maybe you can have a conversation with your kids explaining your desire to explore your options further. The good news is there are so many options out there that you don’t necessarily have to move simply because your health needs are changing.
Have You Considered A Private Caregiver?
Caring for a loved one is one of the most important jobs you can have – and if you find yourself in a position where it would make sense to hire a private caregiver for assistance, look no further. CaregiverNC is North Carolina’s only accredited caregiver registry. We make the process of finding a great-fit caregiver simple, by keeping you in control. All of the Caregivers listed on our registry are pre-screened & pre-verified to ensure they can provide your loved one with the best care possible. Contact Us online, or call our concierge service directly at (910) 692-0683 today!