There’s No Place Like Home

Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

When Dorothy clicked her ruby slipper heels together and coined the phrase, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home,” I doubt she realized its implications. Especially when it concerned aging parents.

I try my best to remember my grandmother and her stubbornness to allow her children to care for her in any other way besides her own. She begrudgingly allowed her eldest daughter to bring her to “visit” a few days a week, but Grandma’s intention was to be at home. There’s no place like home.

Despite the hardships and frustration Grandma’s children faced while trying to care for her, she had a plan and no one would veer her from it. She’d die at home…her home. In her bed. With her blankets and pillows.

The fact is, this eldercare issue rings true with well over half of all aging parents and their baby boomer caregivers.  According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), “nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes as they age…” Today’s terminology refers to this as “aging in place.”  The AARP continues by stating, “only a few express a preference for moving to a facility (9%) or for moving to a relative’s home (4%). There’s no place like home.

This desire isn’t that unreasonable. Who of us, when given a choice, would choose any place other than our home to live out our life? Our aging seniors have earned the right to choose their place but what happens when health dictates the future?

According to the American Medical Association, statistics prove aging parents thrive in their own homes. Even those who are terminally ill, respond better in their home environment, with friends, family and familiarity surrounding them.  It may not be convenient for caregiver children, but the statistics are what they are. Peace, comfort and a sense of belonging are life-sustaining combinations.

Finances will guide many seniors into situations they do not appreciate but with budgeting and planning family members can extend their aging parent’s stay in their own homes.  Seniors are high fall risks due to reduced eyesight, poor balance and reduced flexibility and this is the greatest reason they are forced into facility care. Simple changes around the house can make a huge difference.

Begin with home modifications

*Add non-slip floor surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms where splashed water can be a hazard.

*Remove throw rugs and clear away unnecessary furniture to allow widened walkways   without trip hazards.

*Add bathroom aids (grab bars) for stability.

*Provide a PERS unit (personal emergency alert button ). These are available through hospitals, in-home non medical care companies and private agencies. The cost is small and the security is high.

*Replace stairs with ramps

*Replace door knobs with lever-handled knobs

*Raise electrical outlets to waist-high or higher

*Provide a caregiver from an in-home caregiver company who can assist in the care of seniors.

By starting with these simple and relatively inexpensive steps, children can extend their parents stay in their personal homes.  Seniors will be happier, will eat better, and fair better in their personal home environment. As seniors abilities deteriorate, more extensive modifications can be made to gently and gradually move them away from their homes and into the homes of relatives or assisted living.

There’s no place like home.  Dorothy got it right. Start now helping make that dream a reality for seniors and you’ll see as time progresses transition will be simpler.

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