In the US, about 27% of adults aged 60 or older live alone. Hence, if you, your parents, or loved ones plan to live independently in old age, you must see that they have a safe and comfortable place to stay in and prepare for all the needed support required in emergencies.
Here are some tips to help you prepare in advance to make sure that your loved ones can live independently and are ready for all the situations.
1. Safeguard home: Changes to avoid falls and accidents
If you ever had children, you would probably be aware of the steps involved in putting their plug covers, stair gates, etc. The process of preparing a house to be assured of the safety of your elderly loved ones or even yourself shall be similar in many ways. You must carefully think about the tasks you are likely to do throughout the day and try to make each of them as easy as possible. For example, if the kitchen shelves are too high to be reached without a stool, you must get it changed to avoid any inconvenience or fall chances. Joints of people tend to become weaker with age; therefore, install rails on the stairs to help with their balance.
You must mainly dwell on the major areas, like bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen, and remove all the trip hazards for such spaces. Installing extra light can help older people see more clearly, and reduce the chances of accidents. Such simple changes around the house shall not take too much time but can provide you with an extra added measure of confidence in living alone.
2. Getting around indoors and outdoors
If you no longer drive a car, then try to find low-cost or free public transportation options in your region. You can also hire a volunteer escort service if you cannot take public transportation or travel alone for regular doctor appointments, shopping, etc. Ask your neighbor, friend, or relative to take you along while doing their errands or do yours on your behalf. For more information on your community’s available resources, you may get in touch with Eldercare Locator (toll-free) or reach them out at https://eldercare.acl.gov.
3. Prepare for Emergencies: Natural calamities or during health emergencies.
None of us like to think about the worst-case scenarios, but it is important to keep them in mind and plan for multiple probable emergencies to ensure that you have the assistance you need. All emergency contact numbers of doctors and healthcare organizations or families should be kept nearby or added to the speed dial for help. If possible, you should try to make an arrangement with a neighbor who can promptly come for help in times of emergencies. It can be a good decision to leave an extra key with them so that they can gain entry to your home when you are not in a condition to even reach the door.
Nowadays, Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) are available, allowing users to call for help by pushing a button. More sophisticated variants of this system can detect when you have fallen and may even act as a GFS tracker. Diverse types of Personal Emergency Response Systems are available today, each of them having its unique features. Some of the most popular variants of such devices include:
- Traditional Medical Alert Systems: This device needs the push of a button or some other simple action in an emergency scenario, where help is needed.
- Systems That Detect Falls: This device makes a call automatically to your doctor or emergency contacted as per your settings when a fall is detected. It tends to analyze both the body’s unusual misalignments and the acceleration of movement to sense if the body is moving too fast or is in an awkward position.
- Systems That Monitor Medication Compliance: Such a device assists by delivering actual dispensing devices that alert the elderly when it is time to take medications and dispense pills with just a button’s push. Some of these devices even use timers or send reminders to improve adherence to medication regimens.
- GPS Monitoring: This device comes as a huge help if monitoring is needed out of the home environment. It allows the wearer to call for help in any location where a mobile phone can pick up a signal.
4. Home delivery or supplies
Moving around and going shopping is an important part of staying healthy. But in case driving down the road becomes too challenging for you, then it is time that you consider online shopping for food and supplies. In contemporary times, you can get supplies of almost any type and get delivered to your home and not have to depend on anyone to do your shopping. You can either explore online applications by yourself or ask any relative or friend to show you how to go about it, and then you can easily order food and other supplies online. It is effortless to set up shopping lists for reordering to get all the basics you need daily.
With the increasing age, the dependency on others increases. Thanks to the technologies and advancement, we have many options available to support our daily needs without leaving the house. From house supplies to health appointments, almost everything is now available at our fingertips. As elders need regular hospital and lab visits. They can choose telehealth and meet with the doctor online. And call for myOnsite mobile phlebotomy services for their lab service needs. A professional phlebotomist will come and collect the specimen and drop it off at your preferred lab. The results will be faxed to your doctor.
5. Meeting Emotional Needs, Companionship
No matter how independently you are used to living, almost anyone can become a victim of loneliness, especially during old age. To keep yourself engaged and socialized, enroll yourself in your area’s social activities or opt for tele check services where they do a daily call to check how you are doing. You can also contact the home care providers whose attendants can visit you regularly and keep you engaged with external hobbies and activities. You can seek support from your local AAA or Area Agency on Aging for specialized social programs and other living options near you.
6. Stay protected from Scams
The case of financial scams with elders is on the rise. Never give your credit card number, bank details, or social security number to anyone over the phone or in response to an email. Always keep an eye out for bills that feature charges you don’t recognize. Some of the common scams targeting seniors include:
- Fraudsters posing as Medicare representatives to get seniors to give them their personal information
- Scammers selling counterfeit prescription drugs over the internet
- Scammers soliciting money or asking for personal information on the phone by claiming that they are from a charitable organization or the bank. Sweepstakes/lottery scams are pretty common as well.
- Older adults are trick into downloading fake anti-virus software through emails that allow hackers to access personal information present on their computers.
7. Seek support if needed
It’s not easy to manage everything ourselves, especially when we are old and need care. Below are few options available to find the care and support elders need while living independently.
- Geriatric care managers can serve as consultants to guide you or handle all aspects of caring. Their expertise could save you time, money, and headaches down the road.
- Assisted living communities: If you require 24/7 care, you can benefit from assisted living or go for senior housing options.
- Geriatricians (geriatric doctors) – specialize in caring for seniors and have more experience treating people with various chronic health diseases, dementia, and other conditions that primarily hit older adults
- Area Agency on Aging – County-level government office helps local seniors and connects you with local resources and government programs for drugs, in-home services, transportation, housing, healthcare, financial and legal aid, nutrition assistance, and many more.
- Medicaid Program: Many states have Medicaid programs that offer money to seniors so they can hire an in-home caregiver. That individual could be a family member or friend instead of a professional caregiver. Few states also pay spouse for caregiving.
- Seniors can get help paying for prescription drugs: Social Security has an Extra Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Costs program. It pays for expenses related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. However, it has some criteria, which include your annual income. Apply now or speak with a social security representative for more information.
- Veterans benefit programs: Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services (VD-HCBS): It helps veterans of any age group at risk of institutional placement to continue to live in their own homes. For more information, please communicate with the local VA regional benefits office.
- Look into Federal Government sources. The Federal Government offers many resources for seniors. Longtermcare.gov, from the Administration for Community Living, is a good place to start.
At myOnsite, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live independently with dignity, regardless of age, income, or disability. Our mission is to make life easier by providing accessible and affordable lab services in the comfort of home. We understand the special needs of our elderly patients and provide personalized and dedicated at-home lab services. To avoid the hassle of visiting labs and the risk of getting in touch with other patients.