7 Common Aging in Place Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
In today’s world, aging in place has become a significant priority for older adults. NCOA reported that nine in ten seniors intend to continue living in their current homes over the next 5-10 years. Many state reasons being they like where they live (85%), they have friends/family nearby (66%), and don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving (50%). Making the case for aging in place is relatively easy. Compared to assisted living, it’s easier, affordable, and much more comfortable.
However, aging in place does come with necessary changes. As we get older, our bodies and physical needs change. This requires us to make changes to our living situations. With these concerns, we reached out to Liz Barlow, President of the Aging Life Care Association, to get her input and guidance on common mistakes made and how to avoid them.
1. Not having an early conversation about future needs and preferences when the time comes
As we age, our body and mental needs change. Older age requires us to make changes to our health, eating, and social habits. Many fail to have the early conversations with loved ones, friends, family, and support systems. This leads to a flawed or lack of a plan. Having a thoroughly thought out plan makes things much more obtainable and less stressful. Planning early allows you to keep track of your needs and preferences to ensure they’re met.
Start making a list of your needs and preferences that you’d like to keep as you age. Ask relevant questions such as “what do I like about my current lifestyle?” or “what daily activities bring me happiness and fulfillment?” Having this list with you when planning will help prioritize your needs.
2. Not having a plan for various scenarios
Are you or your loved one prepared if disaster strikes? While this is a complicated and uncomfortable conversation, it is an important one. Many fail to consider possible scenarios that can happen. This lack of planning leads to more stress and often poor decisions.
One way of countering this mistake is to write down possible “what ifs.” For example, what if you become incapable of making your own decisions? Who will take care of you? Write down possible occurrences and create an action plan with your loved ones. This will ensure they know what you want as well as the proper steps to take.
Having emergency plans is vital as well. What happens if your house catches on fire? Where do you go? Who do you call? Do you have the proper home insurance? Sit down with your loved ones and create a disaster plan so you're well prepared for any "what ifs."
3. Not being receptive to lifestyle changes
The honest truth is, as we age, we aren’t able to do the same things we did when we’re younger. Many struggle to accept this. They cope by rejecting any tools or help offered to them. Rightfully so, requiring a caregiver or any mobility support can leave one feeling helpless and embarrassed.
At first, many focus on what they can’t do. While this is normal, it makes a significant difference to focus on what one can do. This positive approach makes adjusting much more manageable. Focus on what you love doing and what tools or people will help to ensure you can keep doing it.
4. Being reactive when it comes to in-home safety
In life, we don’t get to decide when disaster strikes. It just happens. Unfortunately, most are not well prepared when accidents happen. And at older ages, our bodies aren’t able to take falls or injuries the way they did before.
Identify Potential Future Hazards
It’s essential to be proactive about in-home safety. Make sure you’re well covered, have the proper tools, and can easily move around your house safely. This will not only save you from potential injuries but will save you from the hefty hospital bills that come along.
5. Putting All Your Trust into One Person
It’s very common for those aging in place to put all their trust into one person. They tend to think this will solve all their problems. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While it is essential to have someone to help, you shouldn’t solely rely on them. What happens if something were to happen to them?
Try to be as self-sufficient as possible. Build a well-rounded circle of support.
It’s essential for anyone aging in place to try to remain as independent as possible. While this takes a lot of effort, it helps you build your skillset and knowledge up to stay in your home. Another key factor to consider is to build a stable support system around you. Have a group of friends and family that can help you both physically, mentally, and socially. A well rounded circle of support ensures you’re well taken care of with a good quality of life.
6. Not prioritizing your own needs
It’s common for many to feel guilty for asking for help from loved ones. Most feel like they’re a bother or nuisance for doing so. This results in trying to do things on one’s own, which can lead to injury. It’s not only important to ask for help, but it’s perfectly normal. As we age, we all need help. You can’t be afraid to ask for help and age in place.
Keep a list of people you can rely on
Asking for help can be difficult. But much like in other chapters of life, it’s essential to have a list of people you can go to for help. Start by reaching out to those you trust and asking them if they can help with specific things. This can include taking you to appointments, helping with yard work, and more. Keep in mind the needs you have and if you need help doing them. Keep their contact information handily ready when you need them.
Gather the resources you need to keep your lifestyle
Another method for prioritizing your needs is to ask yourself “how can I keep my lifestyle up when I’m older?” What is it you like to do now and want to continue doing? Once you have that answer, it’s then time to write down what you’ll need in order to maintain your lifestyle. Think about any health changes, tools, home modifications, or people you’ll need. Thinking strategically like this makes a world of difference.
7. Not having financial and post-death plans
Finances are one of the more difficult and complicated aspects of aging in place. Many fail to have the proper cash reserve to keep themselves afloat when they’re not working. Not only this, but they fail to have a power of attorney in place alongside their estate and will plan.
Seek help from a financial planner
In today’s digital age, making these types of plans is easier than ever. Many professionals specialize in retirement and estate planning. Sitting down with your loved ones to review your options is also a helpful way to go about things. They can help identify your needs and put together a plan. Their outside view may help see any holes in your plan.
Aging in place is one of the more freeing, empowering, and comfortable aspects of retirement. It can bring great joy and quality to one’s life. However, if not done or planned correctly, it can go horribly wrong. Using the tips in this article will help ensure you’re ready and able to age in the comfort of your own home.
As President of Barlowe and Associates, Liz Barlowe brings more than 30 years of experience in the aging and disability field. Her company provides aging life care management services in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Liz is the President of the Aging Life Care Association® Board of Directors (ALCA). Aging Life Care Professionals® have advanced degrees and are experts in health and human services. They assess the needs of older adults and the disabled and work with the family to provide recommendations for needed goods and services to enhance quality of life; health advocacy; and appropriate housing and care needs. They assist families with the myriad of considerations through cost-effective strategies and superior service.
About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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