Aging in Place

Home Sweet HomeAging in Place is a relevant topic, as our population of older persons is increasing, so are the decisions that need to be made about living safely. Aging in Place simply means remaining in one's own home until the end of life. This means avoiding a long-term nursing facility stay or other group home setting. Most people want to stay at home as long as they can and do not want to consider other options. It is important for persons as they age to plan ahead, if aging in place is desired. Knowing who is available to help and the specific help that can be given, the health conditions and prognosis for each condition, as well as available financial resources and benefit options is key. Discussing plans with potential caregivers, as well as a spouse or other family members in the home, needs to happen in advance of needing help to ease stress.

Remaining in the home is possible with assistive devices, new technology, and adequate care for the needs of seniors. If mobility is the issue, using a walker or wheelchair, having a ramp installed, and wearing an emergency button in case of falls may be enough to remain in the home without much outside assistance. For transportation needs, there are bus routes available in some areas that also offer a senior bus pass at a reduced rate. For those on Medicaid, transportation to and from medical appointments is covered free of charge. Several senior centers offer transportation in their area, and those that do not, are aware of local transportation resources. For medication issues, like forgetting to take medicine, there are pill boxes, alarms, and higher technology medication dispensers to ensure meds are not forgotten. For meal preparation, the senior sites host meals at local sites in each area. There are Home Delivered Meals for those who are homebound. For household tasks, like laundry and housekeeping, someone could be hired to do the work if there is no one else available. Personal care, like bathing, toileting, and washing hair, often requires more frequent visits and assistance by someone skilled in providing that service.

The Illinois Department on Aging funds the Community Care Program (CCP) that provides this type of assistance to seniors who qualify based on need and financial criteria. For money management assistance, the Volunteer Money Management Program is available for those who qualify for CCP. For those who do not qualify, most banks are able to set up direct deposits and automatic bill payment to ensure bills are paid on time. There is also a Family Caregiver program available in some counties for providing assistance with household tasks and personal care, which allows a caregiver respite from caregiving. There are agencies available for private pay for these services, but average around $20/hour. Many people choose to hire someone they know who may work for less. Benefits of using a licensed private pay agency is that all of the workers are insured in case anything happens during the provision of care. However, hiring a trusted friend or neighbor may make receiving help easier and more comfortable. The Veteran's Administration (VA) also has several in-home assistance programs depending on the Veteran's classification. Veterans should get established with their local VA and talk to their assigned clinic about appropriate referrals. Managed Care Organizations also provide assistance for their clients meeting specific eligibility criteria. Lastly, there are some long-term care insurance policies that will pay for assistance in the home. Ultimately, the decision for the type of help needed and where it comes from is for the person receiving assistance to make.

People often ask what is important to know in deciding whether or not it is safe to remain in the home, especially if much time is spent alone. Being able to exit the home safely if there is a fire is critical. Also, being able to toilet safely when no one is available is important. Without the ability to toilet or clean up and dry off, the risk for skin breakdown and infections rise. Lastly, the ability to have access to food and water is a consideration. Dehydration and malnutrition will create medical issues and worsen existing medical conditions.

There is so much to consider in this decision and can be overwhelming to anyone. For more information about aging or services for seniors adults, call any local senior adult center, Shawnee Alliance, or use the link below to Contact the Egyptian AAA.

Use this link to get national information on this topic.

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