While 8 in 10 Americans ages 65 and older say they want to age in their homes, it’s not always possible when health declines.
Knowing when a loved one needs a more supportive environment, such as assisted living, continuing care retirement community or a nursing home, can be challenging. Though “aging in place” remains a cherished goal, seniors are fretting less about it these days, a recent Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs poll found.
An expert in geriatric mental health offers some guidelines for knowing if independent living is still realistic or if someone needs more care, whether through moving or a home visitation service.
Dr. Molly Camp is an associate professor of psychiatry at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In a center news release, she said there are five domains to consider:
Personal needs and hygiene: Basic self-care activities, including bathing, dressing and toileting, must be met. A person’s ability to get in and out of tubs and showers and their risk of falling should be considered.
Home environment: Consider the ability to handle basic maintenance and repairs, as well as access to electricity and water, a sufficiently sanitary living environment and how to avoid safety hazards, such as structural deficiencies.
Necessary activities: Assess whether your loved one can complete complex, essential tasks such as transportation, shopping, meal preparation, cleaning and using technology.
Medical self-care: Your loved one should be able to manage their medications, care for minor wounds and self-monitor for illness.
Financial affairs: Evaluate whether the person has the ability to pay bills on time, track other finances, avoid exploitation, and enter into binding contracts when needed.
Of course, Camp noted, family members may be able to help manage finances and home visitation programs may be able to help with chores such as cleaning and cooking.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more on growing old at home.
SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, news release, June 22, 2022