Over the past few months five of our good friends, all in their early 80s, have decided to move into places where they can get extra help if or when they need it. It’s interesting to think we are at this point.
I admire and respect that they have all taken this proactive step. It not only gives them control of their next years, it is a selfless move which will take some pressure off of their caregivers.
If you plan to stay in your own home what plans do you have to make it easy on yourself and your loved ones? Have you explored costs and services available?
If you plan to move into a place that offers assistance have you visited some to see which ones would suit your personality? There are many options available.
Some people would like to find a place where a group of like-minded friends could live. They would live in their own room or apartment and as a group hire help such as a caregiver, cook, handy-person etc. They feel this would give them more independence yet access to help as needed.
While we don’t like to think about these things, if you are a baby boomer it’s time you did. Wouldn’t you rather make these life-changing decisions than have them forced upon you?
At almost 70 years old I’ve watched as friends suddenly have life-altering events such as a stroke, diagnosis of a terminal disease or a chronic condition or even a sudden death. The wise ones have taken time to plan ahead.
Aging-in-place is the first choice for many seniors. However aging-in-place requires much more planning and in my experience, many more services than those that are presently available.
The tricky part is the needs of seniors constantly change and in some cases change quickly. Have you gone through some ‘what ifs’ and put practical plans in place if any of these things happen?
*What if I’m diagnosed with dementia?
*What if I fall and after need mobility assistance?
*What if I can no longer drive?
*What if I lose my eye sight?
*What if I can no longer shop or cook nutritious meals?
*What if I can no longer clean my house?
*What if I need help organizing my medications?
*What if I can no longer look after my yard or sidewalks?
*Is my bank/life insurance/investments etc. easily accessible to my caregivers?
*Have I completed a “Just In Case” binder and alerted my caregivers where they can find it?
If you are depending on your children or designated caregivers to make these adjustments you are putting an almost unbearable stress on them. Most of them will have busy lives themselves and to have to make difficult decisions for people they love and respect is not only emotional draining it is complicated and difficult. It also becomes costly when it takes them away from their careers.
In Alberta, and most other provinces, Home Care looks much better on paper than in action. Constant change in staff, and lack of staff does not provide the continuity of care seniors require.
It was my experience as well as that of many of my friends who have supported elderly seniors, that Home Care was not a viable option. Too many missed visits by Home Care workers, confusion as to who was coming when, no shows of scheduled visits and then the service so rushed that the senior was left confused and unhappy. It just didn’t work.
Even when you move into a seniors complex, it was my experience that we caregivers were still required to provide lots of support. The relief we felt was that our parents were in a safe spot, were getting nutritional meals, their medications were being given at proper times and in the correct amounts, they had social opportunities and assistance with personal tasks as needed.
It is time to look at your future. The more plans you put in place the easier it will be on yourself as well as others when faced with the inevitable changes of aging. Act now.