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Weighing the Pluses and Minuses of Living at Home

Home Instead CAREGiver helping out an elderly man in his home.
You can get almost any type of help you want in your home. Information on many of these services can be gleaned from your local Area Agency on Aging, local and state offices on aging or social services, or senior centers.

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March 7, 2012

To stay or leave home—that’s the decision that many seniors sooner or later will face. Whatever you decide, planning ahead for the next step is a good idea. Seniors will need to carefully consider their options after evaluating all of the elements of their unique situations, including health and safety.

Q. I’m not sure what to do about my next step in life. My wife passed away about three months ago. I think I’m starting to feel my age, which is 83, and I’m not sure whether to try to stay in my home, considering what life may be like for me in another year or two. My son and two daughters live a distance away, and they’re leaving any decisions up to me. What do you suggest?

For some seniors, it’s hard to surrender the independence of living at home if you still can do so safely. In many cases, it’s easier to remain at home than it was perhaps 20 or 30 years ago because of the help that’s available now. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) conducts research related to aging, including how older people can remain independent.

An NIA tip sheet introduces the kinds of help that you might want to consider so you can continue to live at home. Planning ahead is difficult because you never know how your needs might change. But, according to the NIA, the first step is to think about the kinds of help you might want in the near future. Consider these other suggestions from the NIA and the Home Instead Senior Care network:

  • Everyone has a different situation, but one way to begin planning is to look at any illnesses like diabetes or emphysema that you might have. Talk to your doctor about how these problems could make it difficult to get around or take care of yourself in the future.
  • Help getting dressed, fixing a meal, or remembering to take medicine may be all you need to stay in your home. Is bathing or dressing getting harder to do? A relative or friend could help or consider home care support for a short time each day.
  • Do you need help with chores like housecleaning, yard work, grocery shopping or laundry? Some grocery stores and drug stores will take your order over the phone and deliver the items. There are cleaning services you can hire. In-home care companies also provide that support. Some drycleaners will pick up and deliver your clothes.
  • Worried that you might not be eating nutritious meals or tired of eating alone? Sometimes you could share cooking with a friend or have a potluck dinner with a group of friends. Find out if meals are served at a nearby senior center, church or synagogue. Is it hard for you to get out? Meal delivery programs bring hot meals into your home. Also, consider in-home care.
  • You can get almost any type of help you want in your home. Information on many of these services can be gleaned from your local Area Agency on Aging, local and state offices on aging or social services, or senior centers. Or contact a local Home Instead Senior Care office.

There are other ways to evaluate whether you’ll want to remain at home. A Medicare resource has suggestions for alternatives to institutional care, including home care. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging lists housing options for aging adults that may be helpful.

Consider personal and home care aides, such as those employed by Home Instead Senior Care®, as another option. Home Instead CAREGiversSM are screened, trained, bonded and insured. They may be hired for as little as three hours and up to 24/7 to provide companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping. To learn more, call a local Home Instead Senior Care office.

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