Home Accidents Are A Major Cause of Injuries to the Elderly
Nursing Homes Are For Old Folks Who Failed To Plan Properly
At up to 100 grand a year, there's No Nursing Home For Us - We Plan On Aging at Our Own Home
Old Age is like a thief in the night. It lurks in the shadows, then suddenly, without warning, it sneaks up and delivers a sucker bunch to remind you that bad stuff is bound to happen to you old timer and you should expect more. It might begin with an arthritic jab to the knee or a pain in your back - then quite often, you find yourself using a cane for support and balance to prevent you from missing a step or slipping in the bath or shower.
We all have to be smarter than that. We know it's coming. We need to be prepared in advance to handle it. Just how do we do that? Planning and partnering is the key to survival. That’s how you do it. You can’t escape the inevitable but you sure as hell can be ready for it when it finally arrives. It really helps if you have a spouse to help you along. If you start early enough (I’m talking to the men), you can forestall his coming.
Here’s how my wife and I approached the issue
We decided on an approach called “Aging in Place”. "What’s that all about," you might ask? Essentially, we knew that when we reached a certain age, decisions would have to be made need to be made. Lots of them if we wanted to experience a good quality of life for the next couple of decades. That time for us was just before we reached our mid 60s retirement age. We could tell that old age was beginning to nibble at our edges. We knew that owning and maintaining our home would soon prove to be an effort.
What We Did That Enabled Us To “Age In Place”
The first thing we did was to accept the reality of aging. Older retirees are often faced with a decision about their living conditions. Some move into assisted living apartments that are equipped with safety bars, special toilets, handicap rails and a multitude of other devices and tools that make living easier.
That was not a suitable alternative for us to consider. We would much prefer to stay in the familiar and comfortable environment of our home, We undertook to make whatever changes and adjustments necessary to help us stay home and “Age in Place” as long as was practical. That decision eased many of our concerns about the future
As we approached retirement age, we actually began to put our “aging in place” plan to the test while we were still relatively fit. Arthritis and back issues were beginning to cause problems for me. So before things got worse, we sold our two- story home and moved into a smaller ranch style home. Having everything on one floor made living much easier. We even found a way to install a washer and dryer on the main level to eliminate most trips to the basement laundry. One level is much easier to maintain than two.
It soon became more evident that my mobility issues were becoming more of an issue and would continue to worsen. i had to prepare myself mentally. My wife was light years ahead of me, She knew what we were in store for and she also l knew that the brunt of the load would be hers to carry, That was the most difficult part for me to accept. Changes were required. The first changes in our ranch style home were the installation of handicap rails and safety bars in every key area of our home.
Rub a Dub Dub Start with the tub
The tub and shower area came first. The enclosure was fitted with handicap handrails on opposing walls and a built in shower seat. the controls for the water were moved to an easy to reach p osition and the shower head had a 48 " long flex hose that reached easily to us while we sat on the seat,
To insure our safety and prevent falls, we installed safety bars near the toilets that enabled me to easily get on and off the toilet. We replaced our standard height toilet with a taller version that made the toileting process easier. All these simple add ons helped us and gave my wife added peace of mind. She could have easily suffered injuries to hear back had she attempted to help me up after a fall. With careful planning and an eye to design, our modifications blended well into the design. Our home does not look at all like a nursing home room.
With these safety devices in place, I was more comfortable and at ease with my surroundings. The next phase dealt with the steps we have in various areas.of our home. Fortunately, we have no upstairs level, but there were other areas that needed attention. We have three steps leading into the garage. There, we installed rails on either side of the short stairway which enabled me to easily ascend and descend those steps. We installed a decorative safety rail at the front entrance and built handrails on both sides of the basement stairway that allowed access to that level of the house.
Don’t Procrastinate. Be Prepared
Friends and acquaintances who had also began slowing down were impressedmarvel at ourability to get around. I tell them they can do the same for themselves. Their reply: “I have to do something one of these days". In the meantime they tempt fate and risk broken hips and other broken limbs for failure to install adequate safety equipment. Life becomes more difficult for them. Those people drive me nuts. The time is now. It’s never too late to take care of yourself.
I am in my seventies now. My mobility and balance are severely compromised. Without the rails ramps and improvements we made to our single level home, I am not at all sure if we could have gotten as far as we have. As it is, everything is accessible and within my reach and we are both able to function quite well. We are “Aging in Place” as we had planned. It’s working perfectly, thanks.
Start now. You won't regret it.