Health Decisions: Why Choice is Important in Senior Care
The process of making senior care choices can be complex, but one thing is clear: as a senior, you deserve to have a say in what happens to you. Thinking about these decisions well in advance of your late senior years will ensure you can continue to live in comfort.
Do you know where you want to live as you age? Are you happy with your current lifestyle and would prefer to age in place? There are lots of choices that can make your golden years a time for living, and not just existing, so it’s important to understand your options.
What is aging in place?
If you’re like most older people, you’re probably happy to stay right where you are. According to a study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), “Nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible, and 80 percent believe their current residence is where they will always live”.
To make this possible, it’s important to recognize the resources and work required for independent living and plan for how to meet them in the future. This is known as aging in place and it’s fast becoming a comfortable and affordable alternative to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Healthcare decisions should be made sooner rather than later and should apply to all aspects of your life. If aging in place sounds interesting to you, here are a few considerations to help you make a decision about what your future might look like:
Think about your environment
Seniors face a lot of hard decisions about healthcare, finances and where to live, especially when they start to feel like they’re no longer able to manage on their own. To make the process less daunting, start by looking at your current physical environment and how to adapt it as you age.
Choose to stay put at home
You can manage fine at home for now, but what happens once it gets tricker to climb stairs or get in the shower? You may have to consider a few clever home upgrades that will support future mobility issues—and there’s no time like the present.
Adjustments to your home design can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Living area: an open floor plan with few obstructions, wider doorways, no-step entries, lever-style door knobs, remote-controlled lighting
- Bathroom: walk-in showers, grab bars near the toilet and in the shower/bath, shower seat, anti-slip coating in the shower/bath, slip-resistant floor
- Bedroom: Low-profile bed, nightstands at same height as the bed, a phone on the nightstand, a bed rail, adequate clearance around bed
Remember, it’s best to avoid anything you could bump into or trip up on, like furniture that obstructs pathways or carpets and rugs that could be falling hazards.
Choose to move to a city
Once adult children have flown the coop, many retirees choose to downsize. You might be tempted to move to the city to be closer to public transportation, grocery shopping, recreational activities, and proximity to essential health services like walk-in clinics and hospitals.
And cities are taking note. The World Health Organization estimates the global population aged 60 will reach 22% by 2050. Right now, over 700 cities in 39 countries have committed to promoting healthy active ageing and improving the quality of life for people over 60 in cities and communities.
When you’ve chosen where you’d like to live, the next step is making sure that your everyday needs will be met there.
Think about your day-to-day needs
Of course there are elder care alternatives to aging at home—for example moving in with adult children or into an assisted living facility— but most options sacrifice what seniors value most: their independence. Not to mention the loss of social bonds they have made and neighbourhood activities they’ve integrated into their lives over years or decades.
So how can seniors facing the realities of aging continue to live life to the fullest while maintaining their independence? One option is senior care services, which provide at-home assistance that helps elders stay in their home for longer and live easier and more fulfilling lives. There are also various levels of elder care that can be tailored to meet your individual needs.
Having a professional senior care companion is a non-medical service that supports seniors’ wellbeing through at-home activities, social interaction, and physical exercise. A companion empowers you to continue participating in everyday activities and can help you with unmanageable tasks like dishwashing, gardening, and light housework.
Comprehensive Home Care
This service matches you with a well-suited caregiver who can support your home care needs and help you continue your favorite activities, provide transportation, assist you with your personal care, and consider your short and long-term goals. They act as a representative between you and your healthcare providers, saving time and reducing your stress.
Home Care Nursing
This around-the-clock senior home care program is designed to support your senior care needs. You’ll be assigned a qualified private nurse who will take great care of you and provide you with administrative and medical assistance, so you can experience happier aging at home.
Think about next steps
Now that you’ve made some important choices and have an idea of the lifestyle you want, it’s time to share your thoughts.
First of all, it’s good to talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to listen to your plans and make recommendations based on your health. They know your current lifestyle and health history, so they should be able to tell you what other changes might improve the quality of your care and help you live a longer, healthier life.
If you haven’t done so already, share your elder care decisions with your family and loved ones. Lay out your future plans and explain what you like most about life and how your plans will make sure you experience happier aging. This will put you in control of your choices
It might also be useful to have a sensible plan B that you can communicate to your family.
Lastly, you may want to put your healthcare decisions and priorities in writing. This means that whatever happens to your health in the future, your family and senior care team will know your wishes. Although you may not need it for a while, completing an advance directive (also known as a living will) and appointing a healthcare power of attorney (someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself) will give you peace of mind that if anything does happen, your choices will be acknowledged and respected.
Nurse Next Door will work with you to identify your care needs and match you with the perfect caregiver. Learn more.