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5 Ways to Avoid a Nursing Home and Age Independently

Lisa Belluck  — March 5, 2019

According to the AARP, almost 90% of older Americans want to remain in the homes and communities they love as they enter their golden years. That’s why so many senior citizens are doing whatever they can to stay out of nursing homes and retain their independence.

Aging independently has become increasingly popular in recent years, which explains the rise of adult children adding micro-housing units onto their homes or building “granny houses” in their backyard. But what about the seniors that want to stay in their own homes?

That’s why so many Americans over 65 are researching how to avoid a retirement home. If you’re curious about alternatives to nursing homes, this article will show you the best ways to safely and easily stay in your own home as you age.

5 Ways to Successfully Age in Place

Being able to stay in the home where you raised your family and have lived most of your life sounds like a dream. But what about your health and safety? Let’s take a look at some of the top tips for how to stay out of a nursing home and where you feel the most comfortable.

1. Prepare Your Home

Many seniors think of their home as a safe haven, but often times when we grow older, places that we once navigated with ease can suddenly become hazardous. That means if you want to stay in your happy place, it might take some adjustments to make your home safer.

how to senior proof your home

Some of the areas that might need attention include the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. You should make sure these areas are all easy to access and free from any tripping hazards like clutter or loose electrical cords.

Further ways to prepare your home for senior citizen safety include:

Kitchens should have shelves that are easy to reach and any floor mats should be non-slip.

Bedrooms should be on the first floor to avoid falls when navigating any staircases.

Bathrooms should have handrails installed by the tub and toilet to prevent slips and falls.

All of these measures are simple to implement and will go a long way to creating a safe environment for everyone in the home. You should also make sure every room is well-lit to prevent stumbling and that there are clear paths to and from each part of the house.

2. Take Advantage of Special Services

Eating healthy foods and taking your prescribed medication are key components of your physical well-being. But as you get older, you may find grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions to be too much to handle each week. If you don’t have a family member or caregiver to run your errands for you, what can you do?

You no longer have to rely on traditional options like Meals on Wheels to stay independent and get your daily needs taken care of if you don’t have access to a car or simply don’t feel up to running your own errands. Many delivery services like Postmates can handle all of your delivery needs, whether that’s food, medications, or other household items.

Worried about sticking to your budget or warding off loneliness? If you’re single or thinking about aging in place after your spouse has passed away, you might want to consider another type of special service for seniors that will help you to stay in the house you adore and out of a retirement home.

In many areas, you can take advantage of a senior roommate sharing program like the one offered by Affordable Living for the Aging in Los Angeles. You’ll be matched with a caring and reliable adult that will exchange the cost of rent for taking care of cooking, cleaning, or transportation duties for you.

3. Focus on Good Health

The healthiest and happiest seniors are usually the ones that focus on maintaining their overall physical well-being. They do this by getting regular checkups from their doctors, following a regimen of prescribed medications and supplements, and staying active with regular walks or exercise classes for seniors.

If you find keeping track of all of your health data is a bit overwhelming, you might want to consider asking a loved one to help you set up reminders on an electronic device like a smartphone or tablet. These will automatically pop-up and alert you when you have a doctor’s appointment or need to take a pill and they can be very helpful to people of all ages.

There are also some medical alert systems that provide automatic medication reminders and daily check-in services to their users. This can be another great way to help keep you focused on your health. And many of the devices that are required are sleek and small, meaning you won’t have to worry about carrying around a cellphone or another large electronic device with you.

4. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

Even when you take the time to safeguard your home against falls, accidents do happen, which is why you need to be prepared for them. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t become one of the more than 3 million seniors sent to the ER with a fall-related injury each year is to invest in a reliable medical alert system.

Every second counts during a dangerous fall, heart attack, or stroke. You want to know you can get help fast! With a personal emergency response system (PERS), you’ll be able to keep your independence by staying in your home, while still feeling confident that you’ll never be alone in the case of a fall or another type of medical emergency.

2019 senior fall rates

Medical alert devices work by allowing you to press a help button on a wrist or neck pendant and connecting you with an emergency operator. You’ll be able to let a medical professional know what’s going on and they’ll get you the specific type of assistance you need ASAP.

Many of the most modern medical alert systems now offer stylish device options that look more like a piece of jewelry than a PERS call button. These discreet medical alert devices let you rest easy in knowing you’ll never be alone in an emergency. All while still maintaining your independent and active lifestyle.

5. Stay Connected Socially

If you decide to age in place without a spouse or a roommate, you may discover that you become lonely or even depressed. While this isn’t a reason to avoid staying in your own home during your golden years, it is definitely something to consider. After all, you want to be as happy and healthy as possible, right?

One of the best ways to happily age in place when you’re living alone is by simply staying connected to the outside world. You can do this by picking up a cellphone for seniors, having regular video chats with family members on a laptop, or visiting your local community center for senior-focused activities that interest you.

Remember that feeling a sense of belonging and purpose is important to everyone. Whether you choose to stay connected socially in-person or over the phone, you should make it a regular part of your life to ward off loneliness and keep yourself feeling happy and healthy.

The Bottom Line on Aging in Place

Today’s technology has made it easier than ever for seniors to stay out of nursing homes and live an active and fulfilling life. Taking the time to make a few adjustments to your home and lifestyle can keep you healthier and happier without leaving the home you’ve loved for so many years.

If you want to age in place, you should sit down and have a discussion about it with your family members and do your research on the best of today’s modern senior safety options for inside and out of the home. You should also check in with your doctor to make sure your physical health is stable and ask for any tips he might have on the subject.

At the end of the day, only you can decide whether or not aging in place is the right choice. But if you take the time to prepare yourself, your family, and your home, there’s no reason that you can’t enjoy the house you’ve come to love over the decades for many more years to come.