When it comes to getting older, many understandably want to stay in a family home as opposed to living in a special care facility. A family home is comfortable, familiar, and less of a huge adjustment. However, staying in a family home can feel overwhelming or even impossible as you or a loved one ages and develops different needs.
It’s entirely possible for you or a loved one to age in place in your family home. But if that is your plan, it’s important to make sure that certain supports are put in place. If you want to age in place in a family home, but worry you may need additional support to maintain independence, Jewish HomeLife has resources for you. You can explore in-home care, palliative care and home-based hospice options; if you are unsure which you need, if any, Eckstein Home Care and Weinstein Hospice offer free assessments.
Below are a few recommendations from Jewish HomeLife for how to safely age in place in a family home.
Have a safety check
First, evaluate your current family home and decide what needs to be adjusted. Common adjustments for safety include installing grab bars or a wheelchair life by stairs, retrofitting showers, and installing wheelchair ramps inside and/or outside the house. Other less costly changes include pulling up rugs and other slipping hazards, covering sharp furniture edges in case of falls, and putting timers or motion sensors on lights for visibility issues.
If you aren’t entirely sure what you need done in your family home for increased safety, you can call or email AgeWell Atlanta and ask. AgeWell Atlanta is a service in Atlanta that provides information, resources, and referrals for aging adults and their families. When you call the AgeWell line, you can explain your unique situation and get advice from experts in the field of senior welfare. They can either advise you over the phone, or connect you to a case manager who can come directly to your home and help you assess it.
Get support in the home.
While it’s tempting to want to do everything yourself, there’s no shame in needing some help. If it’s in your budget, consider hiring a private caregiver for tasks that used to be easier to do alone such as dressing, showering, grocery shopping, and errands. Eckstein Home Care is a great Atlanta-based option; the Eckstein Home Care team is responsive 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for all sorts of needs ranging from a few hours of support or companionship to around-the-clock care.
If you prefer to be the primary caregiver for your loved one aging in place, Eckstein can still support you; Eckstein provides respite services to give caregivers a break in order to have some personal time to themselves. For a more “hotel” feel, many assisted living communities offer short-term respite stays for 2-weeks or a month, with a fully-furnished apartment, all meals and care support included. Both The Cohen Home in Johns Creek and Berman Commons in Dunwoody offer short-term respite for families who need a more 24/7 option for a short period of time. Another option for respite care is Aviv Older Adult Services at Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (JF&CS).
Take a defensive driving class.
If you or a loved one plan to continue driving, be sure to take a defensive driving test. You can do this through an agency like AARP, which offers defensive driving courses online for ease of access. These courses also cover age-related physical changes and how to adjust your driving to compensate for the changes. Be sure to test yourself or have your loved ones test themselves every year to be sure they can still safely drive. Even if all you or a loved one plan to do is drive to and from the grocery store or other nearby errands, it’s still critical to ensure you’re driving safely.
Aging in Place in a Care Community
It’s important to note that aging in place does not have to mean aging in the same family home you’ve lived in for 40 years. For those who cannot age safely in a family home for various reasons, whether it’s a lack of resources, isolation or safety, moving to a community setting such as an independent or assisted living is a great option.
Below are a few benefits of aging in place in a community.
It’s great for reducing loneliness and depression.
Aging in a community setting is ideal for adults who are getting more isolated due to life and family changes. If an adult has a spouse who passed away, a family that doesn’t live in the area, or is more introverted and or/unable to drive themselves to events, the loneliness can take a toll.
But at an aging in place independent retirement communities or assisted living facilities like Berman Commons or The Cohen Home, adults can enjoy the company of other adults, along with fun activities every week that keep them engaged and active. Each resident receives personalized attention and specialized care if needed while they build memories and new friendships.
Privacy and convenience.
The private apartments in senior living communities such as Berman Commons and The Cohen Home have multiple conveniences that are not offered in a family home. While enjoying the privacy of their own space, where they can entertain visitors and do their own thing, residents also get the benefit of full service dining–and always with others to spark conversation, laugh and engage with, group transportation to medical appointments and outings, onsite activities such as art or fitness classes, discussion groups, special celebrations, and spa-like amenities.
These communities also provide families with the convenience of pushing in medical services as care needs change. From managing medications to helping with insure Often these communities have medical professionals visiting weekly or monthly for primary care, audiologists, podiatrists, dentists, and more, so that residents can get what care they need, when they need it. This also helps busy families who often have to take off work to help their loved one get to medical appointments. Jewish HomeLife also offers JHL Medical Services at their facilities, which employs nurse practitioners who perform wellness visits and primary or urgent care services for the residents.
If you choose a social community for aging in place, you have the added benefit of medical intervention and safety supervision. If anything happens, you or your loved one will not be alone, and will have staff surrounding you that support you and can step in and take action. Onsite staff can assist with oversight to help people who may become at higher risk for wandering or falling as they age, and notice signs like shuffling feet and muscle or vision weakness. They also make sure that the residents are eating regularly, getting hydration and exercise, and taking their medications regularly and at the correct dosages. For people with chronic conditions like diabetes, dementia, or Parkinsons, they can receive increased support while still living in a place they can call home.
Jewish HomeLife is a leading provider of senior care in the Atlanta area, with some of the most highly accredited assisted living and memory care facilities in the country, along with many other resources for older adults and their families. To read our story, click here. If you want to tour one of our facilities or have questions about aging in place, please contact us today.