There’s No Place Like Home: Five Tips for Aging in Place
Date Posted: 05/01/2016
This year America’s baby boomers begin turning 70; and the majority are choosing to “age in place.” With proper planning – and a support system – many seniors may be able to do just that. According to Dennis Tse, M.D., corporate medical director for SCAN Health Plan in Southern California, these are the five things you must consider to ensure you can live safely and independently in your home:
Home safety. One of the most important things is to ensure that your home environment is safe and free of potential hazards. Because falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in Americans over age 65, fall prevention is at the top of this list. Inspect your home for loose rugs, cords and poor lighting. Have grab bars installed in the shower and at stairways. Fortunately, many of the improvements needed to make a home “senior safe” aren’t very expensive and will be worth it in the long run.
Transportation. Being able to drive is often considered the key to independence, but at some point it will no longer be safe for an older adult to be driving. What are your plans for when that time comes? How will you get groceries? With the proper support system, a weekly trip to the grocery store can be scheduled. What about trips to the doctor’s office? In many communities senior transportation is available for a fee, and some health plans offer transportation benefits as well.
Connectivity. Staying socially connected to the world around you has long been shown to be an important part of healthy and independent aging. One of the reasons people stay in their homes and neighborhood is to remain close to longtime friends and neighbors. If you are looking for social activity, visit your local senior center, where you may be able to take free exercise, art or computer classes. Volunteering is also a wonderful way to not only remain connected but to give back to your community.
Meals. Cooking for one or two people can be a chore. However, healthy and nutritious meals are important to provide your body with the fuel it needs. Why not share the cooking duties with friends at a weekly potluck? Also look to your church or synagogue to see if they serve weekly or monthly meals. Meal delivery programs may also be an option.
Healthcare. Are you are seeing a doctor for regular check-ups and getting the proper preventive care? Immunizations and health screenings can help keep you healthy and independent, so don’t skip them. If you’ve recently been hospitalized, Medicare, or your Medicare Advantage plan, might pay for a home health aide to come to your home. Don’t overlook your health plan as a valuable resource.
Ultimately, aging in place is a unique experience for every individual. Whether it works for you will depend on many factors – some within your control and some not. But if your goal is to stay in your home as long as possible, the best thing you can do is make a plan - and then be flexible enough to adjust as needed. SCAN Health Plan is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit MAPD plans currently serving 170,000 members in California. Further information may be obtained at www.scanhealthplan.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scanhealthplan.
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