What does it mean for seniors to age in place?
According to www.AgingInPlace.com, “Aging in place means living in the home of your choice for as long as you are able while getting any assistance you require as your needs change.” It sounds cut and dry. However, there is more to it than you may think.
This term is widely used in senior publications, medical fields, and governmental conversations. The topic has broad interest and is positioned as the newest philosophy concerning senior care. The title suggests freedom, independence, and the ability to choose what you want. All those things are important!
But there is nothing new about this concept.
Decades ago, before ‘aging in place’ was a popular term, families lived together, and younger members were taking care of their Elders. This was not a novel concept, just a way of life. Family farms became where new generations moved into homes built and cared for by their family for years.
The average lifespan in America at the turn of the 19th century was 48 years. So extended care was less necessary than it is today.
In the mid-1900s, the advent of nursing homes became a reality. The combination of Social Security payments, which began in 1935, and attention to extended life span initiated a change in the landscape of Senior Care. Those early institutions were built in partnerships between the US government and hospitals. That is why early nursing homes looked a great deal like hospitals. Long halls with linoleum tile floors and small rooms with hospital beds and curtains were standard. Even staff were trained as if serving in a hospital with med-carts, overhead call announcements, and bathing rooms separate from the resident’s rooms. The Seniors living in traditional skilled nursing homes were called patients, not residents. There was very little privacy.
In 1980 Assisted Living for seniors became a reality.
Assisted living provided a less intense step than a nursing home and offered additional choices in care, such as meal preparation, medication supervision, and other supportive services in a less clinical setting. Small apartments allowed for some privacy and independence.
What does ‘aging in place’ add to the development of Senior Living?
Most people prefer to live independently at home as long as it is conducive to healthy living and personal growth. But a big home becomes a burden for many reasons. Downsizing is the first step in making life easier. Not only does it simplify life, but it is a great gift to one’s family. Here are a few reasons that large-family homes are not beneficial for Seniors.
- Large homes become a significant maintenance burden.
- Real estate may lose value when overdue remodeling is not done.
- Real estate taxes and insurance are high, along with utilities to heat and cool a large home.
- Neighborhoods may decline around you.
- Bedrooms and laundry may not be convenient.
- The larger the home, the more material positions are collected.
- Stairs become a significant safety issue as you age.
- The list goes on and on.
So to consider staying in your large family home to ‘age in place’ is typically a very poor decision. When it is time for supportive healthcare, additional jobs need to be filled. Finding all of those employees is difficult, if not impossible. At some point, you might need a lawn service, a maintenance man, a driver, a chef, a housekeeper, along with healthcare workers.
Betty and her husband Jerry lived in a beautiful old neighborhood. As time passed, Jerry became Betty’s full-time caregiver. Unfortunately, she suffered from dementia and was still very mobile, making it impossible to be left alone. They had four bedrooms, all upstairs, with laundry in the basement. This had been the family home, and the kids still gathered there for holidays and birthdays. Jerry was exhausted from caring for her, keeping her safe, and negotiating the three floors. At one point, Betty decided to go on a walk while Jerry was preoccupied. She walked out the front door and immediately got lost. It took some time before he found her, and at that point, he decided staying in their big house was no longer the right decision. After moving to McCrite Plaza, they enjoyed a lovely two-bedroom apartment with a den. Betty was safe, and Jerry was relieved of his full-time caregiving. Both of them had more support and independence.“
The option of downsizing to a smaller home is a significant decision for seniors.
Deciding to move out of the family home can come at any time. Many Seniors are choosing to enjoy smaller, more manageable spaces. Whether in a 55+ neighborhood or a mixed residential neighborhood, smaller homes are becoming more accessible. There are many advantages, including maintenance-free living, more manageable space, and the process of downsizing is a real benefit to children and other family members.
Even then, the option of ‘aging in place’ poses challenges. Although the more compact space is helpful, there comes a time when driving is an issue, mobility is compromised, and the help that one needs is more difficult to come by.
It sounds like it would be simple to hire in-home help.
When you consider ‘aging in place,’ it requires getting the help you need to come to your home.
The central fallacy in the ‘aging in place’ concept is that hiring competent healthcare providers is easy.
Many companies have surfaced in the past two decades that offer home health. There are a variety of categories, and all of them have different price points.
Private duty companies provide home care aides that are specially trained companions who may or may not be certified nursing assistants (CNAs). These companies may provide meals, light housekeeping, and companionship. They may or may not be able to give medication, help with bathing, or other nursing duties.
Home health agencies can provide CNAs, LPNs, and RNs, and of course, these services are more expensive. So, depending on the changing needs, different providers will be needed. ‘Aging in place’ requires managing changing needs and hiring the correct service providers. That falls to the families or Seniors themselves.
There are risks and reliability issues for seniors when you have providers in your home.
Finding dependable help is always tricky. All companies do their best to hire competent staff to provide the services. But it isn’t easy, especially these days. These caregivers are underpaid for the most part, and if they have families of their own, they are often called away for their own emergencies.
A no-show is a real problem. When it comes to taking care of someone’s healthcare needs, an absence can be disastrous. Suddenly being alone in your own home is dangerous. Needless to say, all caregivers must have thorough background checks and be bonded by insurance for any loss or damage.
Loneliness is not solved by ‘aging in place’.
The number one health issue for Seniors is loneliness. And being in your own home can lead to depression and many health issues. Having help for a few hours a week does not solve that problem. A caregiver can come and sit in the house, but that does not mean that there is stimulating conversation and activities.
Ruth was a highly educated woman in her 90s. She loved her beautiful home where she raised her family. Her husband passed away several years earlier. She needed help and tried desperately to hire the caregivers she needed. She was very capable of managing the hiring, but finding the right people was basically impossible. She wanted people who could converse about international news, music, and the arts. She would not allow caregivers to be on their phones and got much push back on that issue. Finally, with a great deal of frustration, she decided that ‘aging in place’ wasn’t working, so she moved to McCrite Plaza. Not only did she love her new penthouse apartment, but she also had peers to share daily meals and good conversation. All of her needs were cared for by staff, and most importantly, she had dozens of interesting new friends to enjoy. There was no more loneliness and depression.“
There are many reasons why living in a Senior Community solves so many of these problems.
McCrite Plaza provides beautiful downsizing options. Apartments in various sizes are available to fit each individual’s needs. The staff provides everything from meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation, and all levels of medical care.
The 24×7 emergency call system takes away the fear of the middle of the night emergency at home alone.
Companionship comes by participating with neighbors in a variety of activities every day. There is always something to do that is safe and convenient.
In addition to all of this, the McCrite Plaza staff is managing all the details of your care. The staff is trained to observe each resident to make sure all the needs are met. If care needs increase or decrease, the team will help make those decisions. And there is always backup staff if someone has a family emergency.
McCrite Plaza is a great place to ‘age in place’. If the goal of ‘aging in place’ means “being able to live in the home of your choice for as long as you are able while getting any assistance you require as your needs change,” then McCrite Plaza is a wonderful choice for your home!
Call us in Briarcliff-Kansas City at (816) 888-7930 or (785) 267-2960 in Topeka and make an appointment to see everything available to make life exciting for your future!