Planning for Seniors Who Want to Remain at Home
When I talk about aging in place, I always mention “The 5-Legged Table.”
Aging in place is not something you do every now and then. It is a lifestyle—a way of living that allows you to remain in your home throughout life as long as possible. Many people don’t realize that on any given day, what was once easy for us to do may suddenly become harder and more time-consuming. The task didn’t change, but we did.
The 5-legged table is a list of categories I put together to describe the things in our life that we need, have, or should have but don’t pay much attention to. If you read the list and realize that you may have a “leg or two missing,” try to make it a point to get those legs for your table so you’re not out of balance. If you don’t know how to do it, reach out to your local aging department (each county in every state has one) and ask for assistance in the area(s) that are missing in your life.
The Five Legs of the 5-Legged Table
1) Home Design and Products – Living in a home that has wide doorways and hallways, a roll-in shower in the bathroom, and a kitchen in which you can easily function are just a few ideas. Also, consider a living space that allows you to move around in it comfortably and securely. Having products that help, such as security systems, motion-sensor lighting and interactive gadgets connected to the internet, is beneficial.
2) Healthcare – We all need access to healthcare. To live at home, you need to have medical coverage in case one day you need it. You should also regularly follow up with your primary care provider.
3) Finances – At the end of the day, no matter what you want to do or need to do, you must have financial ability. Living your life at home for as long as possible requires the 5 legs, and some legs require money. You must understand your personal finances, and then you can tailor options to what fits your budget. Also, pay attention to your everyday expenses.
4) Transportation – Many of us don’t think about how we’re going to get somewhere until we actually need to go there. You may need a lift to the doctor’s office, grocery store, a friend’s house…wherever. If you drive yourself, that’s wonderful, but also consider if you couldn’t one day for one reason or another. Who could you call to help?
5) Social Engagement – Year after year, medical institutions write about the effects of loneliness. As humans, we were never made to be alone. Interaction with other people is extremely valuable in our lives. There are studies showing that isolation is the root cause of many diagnoses. So when you have the chance, ask for company. Go out to visit people, walk around the block to see people, go to the local shopping area, spend time being around others and enjoy the interactions.
To have a successful aging-in-place experience, you must realize that all of us, regardless of age, need to have a well-balanced 5-legged table.