Aging “In Place”

Our perspective on aging has changed, and will likely continue to change as the boomer generation enters the aging process with a very different set of expectations for later life. We are excited to help seniors in Central Texas focus on maintaining a high quality of life as they age. Specifically, we want to connect them with the best ways to maintain independence for as long as possible.

It is difficult when we encounter new limitations to mobility or capacity, or to watch an older loved-one struggle with things they once handled easily. Sometimes this happens gradually, and other times it happens suddenly with an illness or injury. For many families a tipping point is reached when they must consider their loved-one’s ability to care for his or her self.

The gulf that lies between a challenging new reality and a clear understanding of options can force older adults to consider moving out of their home. Leaving their home – whatever “home” means to them – in this way is usually experienced as a defeat. Most of us want to stay in our own homes or neighborhoods as we age. That is what “aging in place” means. And that is the very heart of our work at Family Eldercare.

We receive calls every day from people who may not even know their goal is to age in place. They call because they are worried about their parents losing the ability to carry out everyday tasks. They call because they are struggling to provide care for an ill spouse. They call because they recognize they can no longer drive themselves to the doctor or the grocery store. What they ultimately want is to preserve safety, dignity and independence for as long as possible – ideally without moving or losing financial ground.

We have worked with thousands of families for over 30 years to find solutions not just for one family member, but the ENTIRE family.  We know that small, early forms of assistance can preserve independence longer and help seniors avoid unnecessary institutionalization. As a not-for-profit, mission-driven organization we can do that affordably with client-centered, innovative services.

It can be difficult to ask for help, and even harder to convince a parent or loved-one to accept that help. Here are three new ways to consider crossing that bridge:

1) We all need help with things we cannot do for ourselves or simply don’t want to do for ourselves – haircuts, lawn care, taxis to the airport, etc. Getting a little extra help at home as we get older is no different. Focus on what you WANT to do, and let someone else help do the rest. You’ve earned it!

2) Alleviate the worries of your loved-ones. By accepting a little help from a trusted source, your kids/neighbors/siblings won’t spend so much time wondering if you’ve gotten to the doctor or had a square meal recently. This also ensures you don’t have to depend on those kids/neighbors/siblings to do those things for you.

3) Don’t wait for a crisis. Consider the difference in discussing when you might be willing to give up driving vs. why you HAVE to give up driving because you’ve had two minor car accidents. Talking about hard realities of aging is much less emotional when they are still future possibilities. And, this gives you a chance to work on a family plan for maintaining a high quality of life throughout the aging process.

Want to learn more? The Family Eldercare Institute on Aging offers a wide range of workshops on aging and aging-related issues. And, if you need help navigating the aging process for yourself or a loved-one, call us 24/7 at 512/467-6168.