Health & Wellness > More Health & Wellness > HW 13
Is your Doctor and/or family telling you it might be time to consider alternative housing, because they fear for your safety? This is one of the many common scenarios that face our aging population. Your body has weakened and your physical capabilities are not what they used to be. You are more prone to falls and your cognitive skills have diminished.
What are your options?
Well, your options are many – but it all depends on the level of assistance that is needed.
First priority: Determine the level of assistance needed and any imminent concerns regarding physical safety, and psychological well-being. Let’s consider minimal assistance is needed. How do you accomplish this?
#1: Talk to your Doctor
Assuming NO underlying serious medical conditions – List the reasons why your Doctor and/or family is suggesting a monitored facility. Get details about your physical condition and mental alertness. Are you unsteady on your feet, getting forgetful? These are serious considerations for continued safe independence at home. THE KEY WORD HERE IS SAFE!
#2: Assess your situation at home in regards to the concerns of your Doctor
Some scenarios/examples: Unsteady on your feet? Are you using a walker or cane? If not, think about obtaining an assistive device, and use it. Are there throw rugs or raised thresholds? If so, get rid of the throw rugs, and minimize your thresholds by some easy modifications you can get from a handyman (see our resource link page). Do you have stairs you need to climb to the bedroom, or bathroom? This is very common and an important obstacle to your continued safety and well-being at home.
There are many options; just to name a few; move your bedroom downstairs. Moving your bathroom to the first level can be very costly, or you may not have the room for it. Consider a chair lift for the stairs. Med-alert bracelet or one you can wear around your neck, is peace of mind and a great safety device in a number of situations. Need help getting in/out of the shower or bath? Call your local Visiting Nurse Association and ask for a consultation. It is free, but you will need a referral from your Doctor. The Visiting Nurse should be able to help you with obtaining a shower chair, hand rails or other devices that will help you. They will let you know what is covered by Medicare or your alternate insurance.
If you have had a recent fall – most likely you are eligible for medicare benefits which would include Physical Therapy services that include a home safety assessment and suggestions on adaptations to your home , and any assistive devices you may need to safely improve mobility.
Frequent forgetfulness? Are you leaving the stove top burners on? Consider healthy prepared meals you can reheat in the oven or in a microwave. Check with your local Council on Aging or Senior Center about Meals-on-Wheels. Are you forgetting to take your medication? Ask your pharmacy to pre-pour and pre-package your medications according to day and time. There are also some medication devices that will buzz a reminder to you when it is time to take your medication.
Do you need help getting to your appointments? Whether you need a reminder and/or a ride to your appointments, check with your local COUNCIL ON AGING or SENIOR CENTER about arranging for free transportation to and from your appointments. Usually, you can schedule these in advance and the cost is either free (if local) or there is a minimal charge if you need to go a longer distance out of town.
You could hire a Companion or a Home Health Aide: Have your Doctor send a referral to a local Visiting Nurse Association, They will come to your home and do an assessment and let you know if you are eligible for home health aide care. If not, you may want to consider a private home care company that offers screened, trained companions and home health aides.
HOW TO CHOOSE A HOME CARE AGENCY - WHAT TO LOOK FOR!
You have many options that you should discuss with your Doctor and/or family members. Know what is available – having knowledge is the key to keeping your independence. It is your choice. Make sure you choose safety.