Aging In America: Aging In Your Own Home
The thought of selling your home and living with your adult children or at a residential facility for seniors is hard to imagine. Yet, some older adults who find it difficult to take care of themselves due to health or other reasons are torn over remaining at home or leaving the place they have lived for decades.
If you are an older adult, there is a good possibility that you can stay in your home and join other seniors nationwide who are “aging in place.”
The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention defines “aging in place” as the ability to remain in “one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”
Many older adults want to stay in their homes—and they are—with help from in-home caregivers and community caregiving programs.
Home Sharing and Caregiving
Some communities offer HomeSharing programs for seniors. HomeSharing, also called, “shared housing,” matches seniors with unrelated adults who need an affordable place to live. The renters, who are carefully screened, range from Millennials to Baby Boomers.
Besides providing companionship, roommates help with house cleaning, shop for groceries, cook, run errands, mow lawns, shovel snow, provide transportation and other types of tasks.
Housemates may provide limited personal care, but seniors who need help with bathing or feeding often opt for professional in-home caregivers provided by a licensed agency.
Home care agencies have trained or certified caregivers who help older adults with showering, grooming, toileting, and other daily living activities.
Similarly, home health care agencies provide some housekeeping assistance as well as skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech therapy, and other health-related services. Medicare and Medicaid pay for some health-related services but not for services such as house cleaning.
Caregiving Services and Community Agencies
Caregiving agencies offer the same type of services as community organizations or local governments with programs aimed at helping older adults live independently in their homes.
While a community organization may provide one or more services, a caregiving agency may offer multiple services. Let’s take a look at the type of services a caregiver can provide:
Transportation Some seniors are not able to drive or do not have family, friends or neighbors to take them grocery shopping, to medical appointments or recreational activities. While seniors can ride for a reduced rate on a public or private bus, van or taxicab, caregivers provide transportation for older adults. This saves seniors from having to call days in advance to make reservations with local transportation provides.
Meal preparation Community groups deliver meals once a day or on certain days to homebound seniors or those who cannot prepare their own meals. Caregivers prepare multiple meals each day and follow any nutrition guidelines given by a health care provider.
Emergency services Some seniors who live alone subscribe to medical alert services that they can contact in case of medical emergencies. But, because of their medical episode, seniors may not always have the ability to contact the service. An in-home caregiver can dial 911 and contact the home care agency’s support system in cases of emergencies. Most importantly, the older adult will not be alone in a time of need.
In some instances, older adults who hire in-home care agencies can also access affordable—and sometimes low cost—services from community organizations with programs for seniors.
For example, some organizations operate home maintenance programs designed to help seniors live independently in their own homes. So, an older adult can have their house painted, a wheelchair ramp constructed, grab bars installed in their showers, windows washed and much more.
Where Can You Find Reliable Caregiving Services?
One of the first places to go for information is your local senior community center, the “go-to” place for older adults. Many senior community centers sponsor visits by geriatric social workers or other professionals who provide information on caregiving and other services for older adults.
If you do not have a senior community center in your area, the National Association of Area Agencies (AAA) can provide a wealth of information. With local and regional offices, AAA is one of the most well-known organizations that seniors turn to for information on services that help older adults who want to remain in their home.
You may also find an agency through a list of caregiving services provided by your state. What’s more, some states pay eligible family members to provide caregiver support to parents or other older adult relatives. In certain cases, the Social Security Administration’s disability program pays for caregiver services.
Last but not least, word of mouth is one of the best ways of finding home care agencies. Ask for recommendations from family or friends—or people that they know—who have used caregiving services. A global survey on advertising done by Nielsen found that more than 8-in10 respondents to its survey said they “completely or somewhat trust” recommendations from family and friends over advertisements.
Aging in Your Own Home
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are the first places that come to mind when family members begin to discuss whether or not it is practical for their elderly loved one to remain at home.
Long-term care, however, can become expensive for families, especially when an older adult lives there for years. On the other hand, living at home with caregiving services and community support is an affordable alternative to residential living.
So what does this all mean? If you want to stay in your own home, take the next step and learn more about in-home caregiving services. You may be able to age in place as long as you possibly can—even if it requires receiving help from a caregiver.