You know how sometimes things seem to come in bunches? Around here lately, it has been meeting with families providing care at home. Partners, spouses, adult children, and even a really nice neighbor, each working to help someone they care about stay home a little longer in spite of challenges.
Where can these folks look for support? For starters, there are some basics like calling the Vermont Senior Help Line at 800-642-5119 and the United Way’s 211 service information line. Both these numbers should be on the refrigerator or next to the phone. (Is there still a spot that is “next to the phone”?) They provide information about options beyond the family/friends/church network.
There’s also transportation to consider. After all, being able to stay home shouldn’t mean having to stay home. Whether it is public transportation, a motor pool or cab fare, planning for mobility is a key component of sustainability.
For most families, the hardest part is getting ahead of things. Just like child-proofing a house, aging in place requires being ready for next week, rather than catching up with last week. This is especially true with issues of increasing frailty. Replacing the tub with a walk-in shower before it is needed beats discovering at seven some morning that the tub is no longer manageable.
The house needs to be made/kept safe, often in ways that aren’t as obvious as we might think. That’s why the Fall Prevention Clinic is another important number, 802-847-1902. Remember, falling is a huge factor in sending people out of their homes and into continuing care facilities.
Beyond the house there are schedules to consider, yours, mine, and theirs. The kind of cooperation that keeps things manageable takes planning and, well, cooperation. Set manageable expectations for both those giving care and those receiving it. Be realistic about what can be done within the free support system and what will need to be paid for.
Finally, always have a plan for respite breaks for care providers. Without reasonable rest and rejuvenation, things cannot be sustainable. If the care provider is broken, who will provide the care? Taking a break isn’t being selfish, it’s being real.
The list of things to consider is long enough to make a small book. A useful place to start might be the Mature Market Institute’s “Aging in Place Workbook: Your Home as a Care Setting.” If you’d like a free copy just give us a call (toll free) at 866-342-2035 and we’ll send it to you, along with a list of Aging in Place resources.
Oh, yes, did I mention getting your legal documents in line, too? Well, maybe another time.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident.