The AARP cites that nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 want to stay at home for as long as possible. We can all understand that; it is home after all. If you live with family, a spouse or have a strong support network it may be the best option for you right now. But what about those who live alone? According to the Administration on Aging over 11 million seniors lived alone in 2010, and more than 5 million of them also needed assistance with daily activities. Whether living alone has been a necessity or a choice, here are tips to help with safety and how to know when it may be time to consider retirement communities in Virginia.
At-Home Safety Tips for Seniors
Of course aging at home isn’t a danger in and of itself, nor is living alone. But there are some common risks in which to make sure you’re prepared.
Fall Prevention – The CDC reports that nearly a third of U.S. seniors fall each year and about half of all falls that require hospitalization take place at home. To help avoid this clear walking paths, have adequate lighting, remove throw rugs, install grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom and make sure you have the appropriate mobility devices to move around the home safely.
Medication Management – A National Institutes of Health Study found that 40 percent of seniors take five or more prescriptions yet as many as 55 percent take their medications incorrectly. To reduce the likelihood for error always follow your doctor’s instructions and keep track of medications as well as dosage times with written charts, pill organizers or even apps for your phone that allow you to set reminders.
Emergency Preparedness – Make (and practice) an emergency response plan in addition to having emergency contact info readily available for the police, fire department and neighbors. Make sure to test smoke alarms, have fire extinguishers easily accessible and have a generator for power outages if you use oxygen or a dialysis machine. Most importantly, get a 24-hour emergency alert system; a wearable call button that connects you to a dispatcher to contact first responders and/or a friend or family member in the event you need help.
Driving Safety – According to AAA, some of the biggest concerns for senior drivers are that weaker muscles and limited range of motion can restrict the ability to grip/turn the steering wheel, to press the accelerator or brake or to open doors and windows. The key is to be proactive; keep up with regular checkups, particularly for vision and hearing, so you can manage any issues that may affect your driving before they become a danger.
When Is It Time to Consider Retirement Communities in Virginia?
Many people assume they shouldn’t consider a retirement community until there’s a major health issue. That’s not necessarily the case. Particularly if you live alone, the question really is more about whether or not you’d benefit from a more active, convenient and carefree lifestyle than you have at home. Consider these common concerns for seniors:
Connection – Social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day according to the AARP and living alone is one of the key risk factors. Retirement communities give you ample opportunity to keep connected through a range of classes, clubs, activities, outings and events.
Nutrition – Proper nutrition for seniors is crucial and complicated — you need more of certain nutrients and less of others, metabolism slows, medications and/or chronic conditions can affect appetite and/or require dietary restrictions for example. And if you live alone it’s just much more convenient to opt for frozen dinners and take out. What you may not know is that in retirement communities you can enjoy delicious chef-prepared meals tailored to your restrictions and/or preferences in a restaurant-style setting that brings back the fun of dining!
Lifestyle – A home is a lot to take care of, and quite frankly, after you’ve worked all your life who needs the continued hassle? It’s time to enjoy yourself! Retirement communities take care of housekeeping, laundry and maintenance and often offer amenities such as a pool, fitness center, onsite beauty /barber salon and transportation. Plus you can choose from a variety of floorplans and accommodations.
Peace of Mind – It’s invaluable particularly when you fear the ‘what ifs’ of living alone. Many retirement communities, such as ours, have a full continuum of care that includes assisted living, short-term rehab, nursing care and memory care on the same campus. So you have just the right amount of assistance to foster your independence now, but support for your evolving health needs should you need it. All while remaining in familiar surroundings for an easier transition.
Finances – You may be surprised to find that when you compare the total cost of living at home – mortgage or rent plus food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance and entertainment in addition to the high cost of at-home care and/or modifications to make your home more accessible – retirement communities can be less expensive in some cases!