According to a survey by AARP, ¾ of adults want to remain in their homes as they age, but only 59% believe they’ll be able to do so. If you’re part of both of those groups, these tips will help you live independently, in your own home, longer.
Stay Mentally Active
Brain-stimulating games help preserve mental function. Just like your muscles need a workout, so does your brain. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and similar games are great ways to engage your brain.
The number one cause of non-fatal hospitalizations in older adults is falling in their homes. Taking steps now to prevent falls means you can stay in your home safely for longer.
An occupational therapist can evaluate your home for potential hazards and offer suggestions for mitigating them.
You should also talk to your doctor about any dizziness or weakness and do regular strength and balance exercises.
Talk to Experts
A geriatric doctor vs. a general practitioner can make a huge difference. Geriatricians are trained in managing the multiple, often complicated, health concerns that arise as we age.
A doctor whose focus is on the elderly may also be able to refer you to related care services with similar expertise.
*Consider Reducing Medical Care
This may sound counterintuitive, but certain procedures and medications can do more harm than good in older people. Colonoscopies, for example, are not recommended for people over the age of 75. In addition, statins may have more side effects than benefits, and Benzodiazepines have been known to cause memory issues.
The risks and benefits of procedures and medications change over time, so it’s essential to discuss them with your doctor frequently.
Certain aspects of daily living may become too overwhelming, but with help in those key areas, you can stay at home. Grocery shopping, for example. By getting groceries delivered, you save yourself that time and energy as well as a drive in the car. Same for restaurant meals or Meals on Wheels.
Through Amazon, you or a loved one can arrange for needed items to ship on a monthly schedule so you never run out. Some are even paid for by Medicare (but always check with Medicare first).
Check with your state and local agencies to see what other services may be offered.
Start Saving Money Now to Live Independently
Staying in your home can be expensive, and not all of it will be covered by any insurance. In-home caretakers are far more costly than care received in a facility.
In addition, home modifications may become costly depending on what needs to be done.
Focus on Your Relationships
Friends, family, neighbors – these are the people who will support you and check up on you. So start developing and maintaining those relationships now so they’ll be there when you need them.
It’s equally essential to offer support. Feeling needed provides a sense of fulfillment and purpose, which is necessary for good mental health.
If your goal is to keep living independently, you’ll need to be open to how that can happen. Aging brains are physically less flexible and open to change, so start planting seeds for changes such as home modifications, in-home care, and assistive devices. Each of these will help make your goal of aging at home possible.
Plan Ahead to Live Independently
This includes talking to your family/loved ones about your wishes if you get sick and a plan for any pets.
You’ll also want to consider a medical alert system with a plan already in place should you need emergency services.
If you start now with these nine tips, the chances you’ll be able to live independently longer are much greater.
Do you have any other tips? Please share them in the comments below!