Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Maintaining Senior Independence


Submitted by Home Helpers

According to the National Institute for Aging, with the United States’ ongoing demographic shift toward an increasingly older population, along with the fact that 89 percent of Americans over age 50 wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible, conversations about the benefits and costs associated with aging in place will become increasingly critical.

The reasons cited for seniors wanting to age independently are the following:

  • They feel independent in their current home
  • Their current home is conveniently located
  • They feel safe in their own home
  • They’re familiar with their neighborhood
  • They live close to family

Why is this important?
Based on a recent HUD study, financial statistics recognize that aging in-home is a more economical choice: the median monthly payment for non-institutional long-term care was $928 compared with $5,243 for nursing homes.

Expenditures for nursing homes are more than three times those for long-term care services, and these rates are continuing to rise.

Approximately one-fifth of nursing home bills are paid either primarily or entirely out of pocket. According to a Kaiser Foundation study, out-of-pocket spending as a share of per capita Social Security income increased steeply with age, more than doubling from 34 percent for beneficiaries ages 65 to 74 and to 74 percent among beneficiaries ages 85 and over, on average.

How do we prepare to age independently?
Dr. Geeta Nayyar, a nationally recognized leader in healthcare information, recommends five ways to help our aging loved ones maintain independence.

  1. Essential needs delivered to the door
    Healthy eating is an essential component in ensuring physical and emotional wellbeing. Driving can be a challenging activity for an aging parent, which means basic needs like groceries and medicine refills need to be delivered to the door. In 2014, three million seniors over 65 were victims of food insecurity, which means they did not have reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. Seniors who live on their own are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

    2.    Preparing the home
    Changes around the home can be basic and simple to do, and can provide family with an added measure of confidence in having a loved one age independently. Common needs or hazards may arise in key areas like the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.

    3.    Ensuring health care measures
    Many hospital discharge plans require the daily task of taking medicines or checking blood sugar levels, which may seem inconsequential until there’s no one there to remind. Using mobile health tools like medication dispensers and wellness checks can alleviate the pressure of managing multiple medications.

    4.    In case of emergency
    According to the study “Gait Variability and Fall Risk in Community-Living Older Adults: a One-Year Prospective Study,” one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year. This can become a major crisis if no one is present to help assist when they fall. Personal emergency systems allow clients to easily and quickly call for help in an emergency with the push of a button, providing peace-of-mind should someone have a mishap. Monitoring solutions also provide a balance between care and freedom. They include options like GPS capability, which could help locate an elderly parent in the event of an accident, automatic fall detection, and two-way phone communication, giving new meaning to elderly independence for the healthy aging population as well as those living with chronic conditions.

    5.    Addressing emotional needs
    Feelings of loneliness can have serious health consequences among the elderly. Research indicates that loneliness increases the risk of an untimely death by 45 percent among the elderly, according to a study by the University of California, San Francisco.

Home Helpers in Davenport is ready to help you maintain your independence. We have programs in place to assist you in preparing to age independently in place. Call Bill at 563-386-4969 to get more information on how we can help.