“An aging specialist can walk through your home and recommend modifications that can make it possible for you to continue living in your home, also called “aging in place.”
You will probably never hear anyone say they cannot wait until they grow old and live in a nursing home. Although many long-term care facilities provide wonderful care, there have also been shocking scandals of abuse, malnutrition, cruelty and neglect. For the well-being of your parents and to reduce your anxiety about them, here are tips on how to help your aging parent stay out of the nursing home.
Stay Healthy, Strong, and Alert
One of the best tips ever for staying out of the nursing home is to guard your physical and emotional health. Medical expenses can exceed housing expenses for many seniors. While some health problems are unavoidable, you can prevent or minimize illnesses by following these steps:
- Drop the unhealthy habits. They are not only expensive to maintain, but they can cause serious illnesses and weaken your body’s ability to fight disease.
- Be physically active. It is not reasonable to expect that a person who worked a desk job for 40 years will suddenly, in retirement, become a marathon runner. Fortunately, you need not become a triathlete. The simple act of taking a walk every day can boost your energy, mood, strength and health.
- Pay attention to nutrition. Get plenty of calcium and protein for strong bones, so you will be less prone to fractures. Fresh fruits and vegetables can help your digestion and energy levels.
- Get out. While it's tempting to become a semi-hermit if you are not an extrovert or you have aches and pains, interacting with friends can improve your health and extend your life. Socializing can also stave off Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Do not hang out in bars or spend money to be social. Think of a place you enjoy, like a local museum, library, or historic location, and volunteer one day a week.
- Feed your little gray cells. Many people end up in the nursing home because of cognitive and memory issues, even though they are in excellent physical health. Protect your brain from the effects of natural aging by giving it daily exercise. Word puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, and similar entertainment can help keep your brain resilient. Learn something new every day. Reading, surfing the internet and writing letters can keep you alert and in touch.
Home Modifications Can Let You Live Safely in Your Home
An aging specialist can walk through your home and recommend modifications that can make it possible for you to continue living in your home, also called “aging in place.” Some communities, service clubs, and other organizations help older Americans renovate at little or no cost.
You would think the federal government would provide home health care as a much less expensive alternative to nursing homes, but Medicare and Medicaid pay little or nothing for these practical services. If you are a veteran, you might get assistance with home health care and light housekeeping or personal assistance. Some states and local communities offer programs that provide services to help people avoid the nursing home.
Consult a local elder law attorney for the laws in your state. This article covers the general law, which can differ from your state’s regulations.
Age in Place. “Act III: Your Plan for Aging in Place.” (accessed July 4, 2018) http://www.ageinplace.org/