There's no place like home; but is it safe as you age?

A home isn’t just the place where you live; it is also the place where you feel safe and comfortable. It is a place where you have freedom and independence. However, as we age, these are the very values that can be a challenge to maintain.

When should you acknowledge, or your adult children/carers step in to ensure you have the support you need? It’s important to recognise the signs that indicate more help is needed, so the right assistance can be provided to keep living independently for as long as possible.

Here are five things to consider about living at home as you, or a loved one, ages:

Home delivery

Medical and allied health specialists can visit you and provide complete care in the comfort of your own home. Physiotherapists, podiatrists and occupational therapists and other Allied Health Services, can all provide home treatment, which removes the stress of having to travel to appointments and the inconvenience of arranging transport, parking hassles and waiting times.

You can receive one-on-one attention for the whole visit, with no interruptions or having to share treatment time with other patients. Exercises and plans are likely to be better tailored to your own home, using features of your house, such as steps, chairs and benches.

Groceries and other shopping can also be delivered to a home, without all the hassles of having to travel to and around shops. Shopping online can be empowering; you (or a loved on) can choose all the items you want and have them delivered directly to your door.

A safe home

Research related to healthy ageing suggests that living at home has many social, economic, physical and psychological benefits. However, it’s important to first determine a person’s ability to safely care for themselves across a wide range of daily living tasks.

An occupational therapy (OT) service can provide environmental assessments and physical rehabilitation for clients at home to maximise independence and safety. An OT might then recommend a range of equipment, home modifications, services or rehabilitation services that might help. Some common changes the OT might suggest include installing rails, lowering pantry shelves, adding more lighting and removing potential floor hazards. These are changes that are relatively simple but can provide greater confidence and safety.

Medication reminders

As we age, we are more likely to have a range of medication that needs to be taken at particular times each day. It is important to remember to maintain your medication regimen to help avoid potential adverse side effects of missing (or over) doses. Using smart pill-boxes is one way that can help simplify this important process. Ultimately, it’s important to be aware of changes in health or behaviour to help monitor whether this process is working successfully or whether other reminder methods are needed.

Falls or emergencies when home alone

A fall can become a major crisis if no one is present to help assist if you fall. When falls or acute medical events (such as a stroke or heart attack) occur, each second that passes matters. Personal emergency response systems enable users to easily and quickly call for help and can provide great peace of mind; they strike the perfect balance between care and freedom. To help prevent falls, podiatrists and occupational therapists can help you eliminate hazards, assess footwear and other matters of the feet to help you maintain better balance.

Feelings of loneliness or isolation

Feelings of loneliness can have significant health consequences for the elderly. Meaningful emotional contact is essential; even simple gestures such as having others listen and share words of encouragement can positively influence morale. Helping an elderly person to video chat with loved ones outside the local area can be very rewarding emotionally. An occupational therapist can help you continue to lead a productive lifestyle by helping you connect with hobbies and activities that help nourish a sense of belonging and purpose; something we all need!

Almost everything that can be done for a person in an aged care facility can also be done at home. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live life to the fullest extent they can and to feel joy. The best way we can support the wishes of our ageing family members is by enabling safe, high quality care at home.

Today’s seniors have resources available that can make life easier as they continue enjoying the freedom of living independently. With today’s innovative approach to the way we can communicate and provide resources, remaining at home as long as possible can be a reality; not just a dream.

Talk to the team at Lifecare about the home visit services we offer.