Doug Sheaffer – Pacific County

Aging in place

January 5, 2021

 

By: Doug Sheaffer

Email: doug.sheaffer@dshs.wa.gov

 

There are many people who have recently spent more time at home than usual. Some are enjoying it. Some are getting antsy. Some just want it to be more their choice than the conditions outside.

And for some, it’s not much different than prior to COVID stuff. Those with limited physical ability to be out and about as much as they’d like are discovering a kinship with a different section of the population.

Even those of us who continue to commute, run needed errands and/our work is essential, find ourselves at home more often and for longer periods.

Home is becoming a very familiar place indeed.

So while we’re there, let us consider what might be a familiar phrase to some: Aging in place.

I get we are all aging as long as we’re breathing. And I get we are all someplace, so we are in one way, all aging in place. The term, however, has come to be understood as the question:

If I’m staying here at home, what needs to be done for the long term?

              One way of thinking about this is using the “what if” method:

What if my health changes dramatically? What if I need to bring a family member into my home in order to care for them?

              Looking ahead at possibilities and considerations is less stressful than trying to deal with an unexpected and drastic change after it occurs.

So, consider:

  • Might a wheelchair or walker be in my near future? Are the doorways wide enough to accommodate them?
  • If I live in a two or three story house, will the areas I need be easily accessible? (Is the bedroom upstairs and the bathroom downstairs? What about kitchen access?)
  • What about being able to even enter the house? Steps? Would a ramp be advisable?
  • Even if mobility isn’t a huge issues, what about being steady when you transfer, bathe, etc? Grab bars in the bathroom help a lot of people, as do lift chairs in the living area.
  • Maybe a “just-in-case” item like a personal response unit? (The often repeated “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” unit.) These can be on standby until/unless they’re needed.

Is that all? Very likely not. Each home is unique just as we are. This may be just a starting point for considerations.

Since we’re more at home than usual, try looking around with “what if” eyes. Be safe now..and then.

 

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