“I want to stay in my home of 30 years as long as I can. What resources are there, and how can my children help?”
That’s a common question. And it’s possible to help an older person stay in his or her home, with a little planning and regular upkeep. Many services necessary for continued, independent living at home are available locally. For specific information, contact the municipal, county, and state offices on aging; social-services organizations; nearby senior centers; and civic, tribal, and religious organizations. They are there to help.
What Do You Need?
There are a number of needs seniors face as they age, including:
Personal care. If bathing or dressing is getting harder to do, a nearby relative or friend may be willing to help. Or a trained home health aide can be hired for an hour each day to meet this need.
Homemaking. Need help cleaning the house, grocery shopping, or doing the laundry? Try a residential cleaning service. Or maybe a friend or neighbor has a housekeeper to suggest. Increasingly, grocery stores and drug stores offer telephone ordering and home delivery service. Some dry cleaners will pick up and deliver, too.
Meals. Tired of cooking every day or eating alone? Share the cooking with a friend, or host a potluck dinner with a group of friends. Many senior centers, churches, synagogues, and mosques serve meals for all, and eating out gives a chance to visit with others. If getting out is too difficult, a community program like Meals on Wheels will bring hot meals into your home.
Money management. Are the bills piling up because it’s too tiring or confusing to keep track? Here’s where a trusted relative can prove invaluable. If that’s not possible, there are trained volunteers to call on, or financial counselors or geriatric-care managers to hire. Just make sure the helper comes from a trustworthy source.
Health Care. Organizing and tracking medications can be very stressful. However, there are simple devices to help sort them and even prompt when to take them. If an older person is just out of the hospital and needs temporary at-home help, Medicare often pays for a home health aide. A concerned son, daughter, or other relative can help clarify available options.
Helping Mom Stay Home
As people age, they often start having trouble with shopping, cooking, taking care of the house, and their personal grooming. If that is the case with your parents, an aunt, uncle, or someone else, consider the following actions to help them — and yourself — make the right decisions:
Talk with them about getting help.
Offer to gather information about locally available services, like Meals on Wheels or volunteer transport.
Discuss with others in the family how they can help.
Ask friends in similar situations what has — and has not — worked well for them.
Then, meet with those needing help to share what you have learned. Armed with as much specific, helpful information as possible, together you can develop a plan of action for continued independent home living.
This article was prepared by the National Institutes of Health.