Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Can We Grow Old, Be Independent, And Be Happy?


Of course we can!  Being optimistic about life while growing
older goes hand-in-hand with being happy.  When we are young, we looked
forward to retirement and the “golden years”.  We plan and plan so that
we will get to do all we didn’t have time for while we were busy making
money and raising kids.  We indulged in dreams of grandchildren and much
anticipated travel.  We are called the “Baby Boomers” and we tend to
roll with the punches, feeling happier at 60+ than we did during the
stressful years of our 30s and 40s.

However, many seniors do not
embrace the aging process and it can be difficult to convenience them
that growing older can be a happy experience.  Ongoing health problems
are their number one focus, and they struggle daily.  Let’s face it,
poor health and change is tough.  However, the aging process—good or
bad—is not something we can prevent.

After living independently
for all of our adult life, it is very difficult to accept the reality
that we might need help.  Regardless of our health, we all want to stay
as independent as possible.  An often-heard wish is, “I want to stay in
my own home.” The good news is that, with the right help and a homecare
agency, all of us might be able to do just that! 

So, what do we
do first?  We plan and prepare.  Planning ahead is hard because we
never know what our needs might be in the future.  Every situation is
different.  We might live at home and but feel that we could use help in
the future.  Or maybe our spouse or loved one is getting a little
harder to care for.  Getting dressed in the morning, cooking, shopping,
or even remembering to take our medications on time can start to be a

We can get almost any
type of help we need in our homes to assist us in remaining in our
familiar surroundings and feeling independent.  Call and ask a
representative from a local homecare agency to come in and discuss needs
and costs.  There should be no cost for this initial assessment.  By
creating this bond with an agency, the agency will be better prepared to
help. When choosing an agency, be sure to plan ahead before the
interview with questions such as: 

  • How long has the agency been serving this community?
  • Does the agency have printed brochures describing the cost?
  • Is the agency licensed (if your state requires one)?
  • Do they offer a “Patient’s Bill of Rights?”
  • Do they write a plan of care and update it on a regular basis?
  • Are services available 24 hours per day?
  • Do they have a nurse supervisor?
  • How do they hire and train the caregiver?
  • How do they screen its caregivers?
  • How do they ensure patient confidentiality?
  • Do they have procedures in place for resolving problems?
  • Do they offer references?
  • Do they offer referrals if cost is a concern?

A reputable homecare agency should be able to answer all these
questions and more.  They should readily have names of referral agencies
specific to our individual health and monetary needs.  The agency
should be able to produce a list of references.

Now, let’s talk about preparing.  We all know—even when we are in
denial—that we will change because of aging.  There are many ways to
prepare.  For starters, we can look around and assess our home.

Are we starting to have trouble walking or getting around?   Are we
getting bored staying at home?  Are we worried about safety in our home
or in our neighborhood?

• Safety: The bathroom and
bathtub is one place where seniors frequently get hurt.  If this is
becoming a challenge, make a few simple changes before someone gets hurt
or falls. There are many products on the market.  Tubs with side doors,
bars to hang on to, tub or shower chairs, and even non-skid mats for
our showers.  Another suggestion, for those of us that have bathrooms on
the second floor, is to plan ahead to see if putting in a bath on the
main level is feasible.  That same thought could also be applied to the
bedroom.  Ask to have a bid on bringing the bath and bedroom to the
first floor.  If we are able to plan and give thought and consideration
to our needs in advance, another choice might be to move to a single
floor dwelling. 

There are wonderful assisted devices
readily available.  Perhaps a walker, electric wheelchair, or scooter
would be our choice for independence.  Medicare sometimes covers these
devises. Maybe our need would be for a caregiver to assist us in
shopping or going to the doctor or just running errands.

• Boredom: Are
we worried about getting bored and lonely at home?  Check out the local
senior centers.  Plan ahead and visit each of them.  When interviewing
homecare agencies, ask if their caregivers are allowed to go out to
lunch, a movie, or on short trips as a companion.

• Abuse: Seniors
can often find themselves living alone for the first time in many, many
years. A death of a spouse can change how we feel about our home. The
remaining spouse could be worried about crime, physical abuse, or losing
money as a result of a scam. Maybe being afraid of becoming sick with
no one around to help is the biggest fear. Having a caregiver coming
daily can be a comfort and relief for those fears.  We might also want
to check into wearing a special push button necklace or bracelet for use
in case of an emergency.  Plan ahead and don’t wait for an emergency to

Plan and Prepare
Okay, where do
we start?  Asking the people we know, such as family, friends,
neighbors, and church can be our biggest sources of help and referrals. 
Call community and local government resources.  Healthcare and social
workers may have suggestions.  The local area Agency on Aging will have a
list of services in the area. Look in the phone book and online for
healthcare agencies and senior services.  They might assist in finding
the appropriate government agencies that are designed to help.

Last, but not the least, ask how much will this cost.  An important
part of “Planning and Preparing” is thinking about how we are going to
pay for the help we will need.  Some services will be private pay, some
will be paid by Medicare and Medicaid, and some will be paid by
insurance or veterans’ benefits.  Knowing these answers will help us
make the right decision of remaining at home or the possibility of
living at an elderly housing complex, an assisted living facility, or a
nursing home. 

Remember, home is anywhere we live, if we make the decision. 

Do we want to stay independent throughout our senior years?  If we
are like the majority of seniors, our answer will be “Yes, just let me
stay home.”  So get busy and start the preparing and planning process. 
It will help make life a little easier when that “time” comes.

Guardian Family Care, Inc. is here to help. Call us for more information:

Iowa Quad Cities – 563-359-4444
Illinois Quad Cities – 309-736-7414
LeClaire – 563-289-5229
Clinton – 563-242-2308
DeWitt – 563-659-5516
Muscatine – 563-263-0530
Geneseo – 309-944-372
Administrative Office – 563-359-0522