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How to Live Independently in Your Own Home for as Long as Possible

By Eddie In Healthcare

Advice for Successful Independent Living from someone who has spent 10 years working with Seniors

As you may already know I have spent nearly a decade working in the Assisted (AL) Senior Living Communities in Massachusetts. But I do clearly realize that AL is not for everyone – and it does not have to be. We are all so different!

Additionally, more and more people are choosing to try and extend living independently in their own homes. With this article my goal is to line up the options and offer some advice for the independent living at your own home. Writing this will also help me in continuing my decision making process weather in the future I will choose to live the Senior Living setting or stay at home.

So let’s start!

The good news is there is an abundance of choices helping to map out the personal blueprint detailing the emotional and physical health needs of the daily living independently and at the home you love. Health care assistance is available in an incredibly diverse assortment of services that are geared towards enabling to live self-reliant and independent lives while receiving a customized level of care that can range from occasional visits to daily care services administered an hour or two each visit. We can pick in-home health care and long-term care services that best suit our individual needs and desires and subsequently design a lifestyle where we are in complete control of the level of care they receive and require.

Assisting greatly with the senior experience are innumerable senior-friendly tech devices that can be used to not only provide entertainment opportunities but, more importantly, serve as essential components for safety measures that can call lifesaving help in the event of an emergency.

Living a successful senior independent life can become a relatively stress-free and painless experience. How to start? First is “getting to know yourself” by identifying your needs.

Get to know yourself and identify your personal needs

Identifying the level of assisted care we will require is very hard. How can we really assess ourselves? People in general cannot be objective once evaluating themselves, so let’s enroll some help from the family or ask a professional in-home health care provider to guide us.

If you are using a wheelchair your needs will vary from those who do not, while they may require in-home care services that are different in scope to you due to their personal and very unique needs. We are all so different!

I would say it is probably best to start with the old fashioned checklist on a sheet of paper. To properly identify the level of care we will need and write down any illnesses and conditions, in addition note the specific items and tasks you think you will need assistance with.

Common In-Home Health Care Assistance Can Include:

  • Administering medication at specific times throughout the day
  • Managing and organizing medical appointments
  • Meal preparation and food shopping
  • Cleaning, laundry, gardening, trash removal
  • Companionship
  • Errand-running
  • Paying bills and finance management
  • Transportation
  • Grooming
  • Bathing
  • Toileting (last but not least – the Convenient Height extra tall toilet is a truly great ally to help you staying at home independently for as long as possible).

Choosing In-Home Care as Well as the Frequency

After you have identified your needs it is really much easier to choose the type of in-home assistive care. Examine your individual health conditions and the various tasks and aspects of life you need help with. For your reference below is a list of the most common types of in-home care assistance providers utilized. Choose the type of care that is most appropriate for your needs. Will you need a personal care attendant, home health aide, or even a homemaker? These options would be an ideal choice to provide assistance with various chores, tasks, and more, while remaining a budget-conscious choice.

If you had recently undergone surgery it might be beneficial to closely involve services of a physical therapist who can facilitate post-surgical recovery and also perhaps a home health aide who can attend to various domestic tasks and chores while on your recovery journey. Concerning your budget, let’s identify how often you will need your home care professional to assist you and plan accordingly.

Home Care Professionals and their Cost Comparison

$$$ – Most Costly
$$ – More Costly
$ – Least Costly

Nurse practitioners$$
Physician assistants$$
Physical therapists$$
Home-health nurses$$
Occupational therapists$$
Home-health aides$
Personal companions and homemakers$
Personal care attendants$

Image result for personal care attendants

Technology that connects and assists us

There is so much Technology out there – it seems as everything just happened and there was nothing 20 years ago! But new technological advancements can quickly enhance the conditions of the independent living. Good news is the tech use has become a lot less complicated.

Alexa, what time is it?

Technology such as cell phones and voice activated devices as well as GPS locators will help in multiple cases. I will write a separate blog post about this subject.

Let’s start with a cell phone or a smart phone.

Much more than just a device to chat, email, or surf the Internet, cell phones are important technological elements. There are dedicated senior-friendly cell phones that include safety functions such as Urgent Care, which provide 24/7 connectivity with doctors (or nurses) who are able to counsel senior patients, dispense medical advice, and prescribe any necessary medications right over the phone. But smart phone apps can also very easily help any iPhone to become a dedicated device with safety functions.

Another fantastic feature found on mobile phones is “Share My Location” feature which is incredibly useful for caregivers as it enables the family members to take advantage of GPS technology to pinpoint your location in the case of an emergency or accident.

Smartphones like iPhones or Samsung mobile phones have options to enlarge reading and texting font and extra-high volume ability to assist with lower-level of hearing. The mobile phone developers usually pre-install critically important safety functions that can assist in a variety of situations (emergency and non-emergency). Set up your cell phone once -even if it’s with the help from your teenage grand kid – and your life will be vastly safer and more secure with the addition of a cell phone packed full of safety-specific apps.

A Series

Make Necessary Safety Modifications To Home Environment (including getting a Taller Toilet)

Crucially essential to creating a successful independent lifestyle at home is the creation and maintenance of a safe, functional, low maintenance and healthy living environment. Let’s start with the removal of clutter, unnecessary furniture, and any other item(s) that impede the easy flow of movement from room to room. The home will look brighter and the fall risk will be greatly minimized.

Analyze your home and using a pen and paper, carefully consider all the rooms in your home from the front door to the bathroom, your bedroom and the living area

Note items that can be removed or donated to create a more open space that allows for free and uninhibited movement. Additionally, identify hazardous items that could potentially result in falls or trips such as slippery rugs and cords on the ground. As you make your careful analysis of all the rooms of your home, list what can be donated or tossed and what needs to be bought as an investment to ensure safety throughout your home.

Common basic safety items for seniors can include the following:

  • High-quality, durable non-skid rug slip pads
  • Grab bars installed in showers, tubs, and by toilets
  • Taller convenient height toilets (the Convenient Height extra tall toilet is a truly great ally to help you staying at home independently for as long as possible).
  • Portable LED light devices which can provide an instant source of bright light

Medical alert systems: E-call buttons

Medical alert systems (also called personal emergency response systems or simply call buttons) are very useful items that will provide a peace of mind to you and your family members. I like to call them a lot more simpler: E-call button. The E-call button will create an increased level of independence and self-reliance for you, I am very sure of that I have witnessed it first hand during my years in the senior living buildings. Actually, together with the Resident Care Directors I had worked with we were solely responsible for managing the E-call systems with hundreds of devices connected to the network. With models available in a vast range of options, there are simple medical alert systems that merely require a push button operation to instantly connect with a 24/7 on-call response center in the event of emergency, accident, or injury.

I will review the e-call button options in another blog post. But these valuable medical devices will enable you to not only call for help when it is critically needed but also provides fall detection and fall prevention functionality, medical monitoring software, and crucial GPS location tracking, along with the ability for family members to connect with the device to check your current status.

What do you think about this article? I would love for you to share your thoughts in the Comment and Reply section below. Please write – I would love to read your thoughts!

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