We have talked about this issue in the past, and I am sure we will again. There is no shortage of evidence that, by far, most folks want to age in place, in their own homes. We see this every day at Support For Home, in terms of elders for whom we provide home care, as well as folks for whom we provide geriatric care management. We also talk with many others, at senior centers and elsewhere, as well as to many of our colleagues in the elder care industry. The story is the same.
That does not mean that many folks in assisted living facilities are not happy. For some seniors, that is a truly great environment. For the majority, however, staying home is what it is all about.
So, reading a story from my reading archives (it is amazing how much I have NOT read! 🙂 ), an 80th birthday celebration caught my eye and made me smile:
She was tending her garden when two little girls from next door — “my buddies,” she calls them — brought her a strawberry shortcake. It underscored why she wants to stay put in the house that she and her husband, who died 18 years ago, purchased in the late 1970s.
“I couldn’t just be around old people — that’s not my lifestyle,” she said. “I’d go out of my mind.”
Good for her – and her buddies.
The anecdote comes from a story about a great program in Verona, New Jersey that is designed to help folks age in place. There are some wonderful services baked into the program, but one of the keys is articulated by the town’s health coordinator:
Social worker Connie Pifher, Verona’s health coordinator, said a crucial part of the overall initiative is educating older people to plan ahead realistically and constantly reassess their prospects for successfully aging in place.
“There are some people who just can do it, especially if they have family support,” said Pifher, “And then you run into people who think they can do it, yet really can’t. You need to start educating people before a crisis hits.”
The need for planning is why I wrote my first book, The Aging Experience. It is the phase of our life that gets the least amount of attention, in terms of planning. We spend more time and effort – and money – planning for the distribution of our estate, after death, than we do planning for the aging experience. Then we are frustrated and emotionally overwrought when the issues of aging in place hit us between the eyes.
So, if you are among those who have not planned for your own or a loved one’s aging at home, start now. Find experts in the field and sit down with them – advice is FREE – or it is with us and just about any member of the Home Care Association of America, anyway.
Best wishes. Bert