End-of-life living situations make up a topic many people want to avoid. We don't like thinking about a time when we might not be able to care for ourselves and our loved ones.
However, this subject cannot and should not be avoided. By taking steps to adjust our surroundings today, we can better position ourselves for a better quality of life as we age. This concept, called aging in place, should be a part of anyone's post-retirement plans.
What is aging in place?
According to the National Institute on Aging, the concept of aging in place refers to a scenario in which a person lives in the residence of his or her choice with access to needed health services for as long as possible.
Importantly, aging in place isn't just a consideration for the elderly. In fact, anyone nearing retirement age should consider the challenges that might arise in the future. NIA noted one of the first steps for many people is to assess current health issues and determine if these conditions will make it difficult to live independently later in life.
Taking steps to prepare for the future is the driving force behind the aging in place movement. Modifying one's home to be more accessible or utilizing a third party to take care of household chores are two examples of how to prepare.
As a concept, aging in place is meant to help seniors maintain the best possible quality of life throughout the aging process.
How can patients prepare to age in place?
A few simple changes around the home can make it much easier for seniors to live independently for longer. Here are a few recommendations from NIA:
- Handrails: Installing a ramp with handrails at the entrance of the home makes the building accessible to wheelchair users. In the bathroom, installing bars near the toilet and shower will reduce the likelihood of falls.
- Slipping hazards: Wood and tile surfaces can become wet and slippery. Installing friction strips or mats will help prevent dangerous slips.
- Light switches: Placing light switches at the bottom and top of staircases will make maneuvering between floors much safer.
- Handles: Rounded handles can be difficult to grip. Replacing door and faucet handles with more comfortable solutions will eliminate this problem.
- Area rugs: An unsecured rug presents a dangerous hazard. Removing rugs or fixing them to the floor will make the room safer.
Today's seniors also have access to technologies that can make independent living much easier. For instance, a hearing aid that connects to the doorbell or fire alarm system can wake up seniors with hearing loss. Likewise, safety alert buttons can call for help when a senior is unable to reach the telephone.
Many modern consumer products can also make things easier for seniors. For instance, a smart thermostat can regulate the home's temperature throughout the day without needing input from the user. People nearing retirement age should consider how they can upgrade their homes with accessibility-enhancing technology.
How do home health and hospice care relate to aging in place?
Patients with chronic illness can remain independent for longer with the assistance of a home health aide. Near end-of-life, a home health or hospice worker can ensure that patients have the best possible quality of life at home.
Home health care workers and hospice services can also help the patient's family members to better understand how they can help their loved one live out his or her final days in peace and comfort.
To learn more about how award-winning NDoc software can support your home health and hospice teams, schedule a free demo today.