Caring for aging relatives is a question that is difficult to answer, but one that more and more families are grappling with every day. Expect the number of seniors in the U.S to reach 70 million by the year 2030, according to the U.S. Census. A growing aging population means more medical concerns, but even for seniors who are otherwise healthy, there’s the independence question to grapple with.
For many seniors without serious health issues, there is a strong desire to still live on their own. In addition, there may be a practical component to it. Adult children, relatives, or other loved ones may be willing to take care of an elderly relative, but may not have the time, space, or money to accommodate this in their own homes. As a result, keeping a healthy senior independent may be the best option for multiple parties.
Live Independent, Live Modern
When it comes to living independently, tech has become the great equalizer in a lot of ways. While the elderly may not have grown up with modern amenities, many of these options have proven to be very useful today. One great example is using the Internet to order and receive certain essential needs. If seniors are no longer able to drive, have a compromised mobility, or are dealing with inclement weather, having basic needs like groceries and medicine delivered to their door is a huge help. Of course, this will generally require a little bit of education on the part of a younger generation. If this isn’t possible, a loved one can place the order themselves.
Another thing to note is that ideal housing is different when an elderly person lives in it. You want to make sure that your aging loved one is living in a safe environment. Take a moment and think about potential falling hazards, areas where there is poor lighting or areas that may be out of reach. One option is to design a new home with physical limitations in mind, something that can be done as part of early retirement planning. This includes one-floor designs that allow for easier movement within the home, or even chairlifts or elevators to go along with traditional stairs. If you have the time and the means, you may even be able to retrofit an existing house along these lines.
In the same vein, you may want to invest more in security for their home as well. This way, they can still have their independence, but you can shoulder some of the responsibilities as well.
Getting Outside Help
Independence doesn’t necessarily mean that an older person can do everything by themselves. Recent studies show that two-thirds of older adults need some form of assistance. For example, in the group of 8,000 men and women, 90 percent of seniors were able to eat on their own, but only 54 percent could bathe without help. As a result, home aides for seniors are a good investment. These professionals can help your older loved one with certain household tasks. In addition, they can also take a more general role of caregiver.
A home aide may help with meal preparation, showers, housecleaning, taking them on errands, just about anything. In many cases, having a home aide to help with a few difficult tasks is enough to keep a senior from having to move into an assisted living facility.
There are also professionals who can help seniors in other ways, especially if they live far away. One growing profession is daily money managers. Traditionally used by the very rich, some have begun to retool their services and pricing to help seniors living at home handle their money management and the paperwork that comes with it. This includes handling junk mail, medical bills, and Medicare statement. At this age, one missed bill can cause undue stress. Handing the reins to a money manager removes this issue from an older person’s mind. In addition, a professional one can protect seniors from potential fraud. Seniors living alone are often an easy target for scammers.
On top of all this, part of being independent is also being happy. Make sure that your loved one is still trying to maintain some sort of social life or keep up with their hobbies. Physical activity is also important, as long as it is done within reasonable means.