Where do I want to live as I age?
The question is when, how and who will make the decision to move from our home to institutional living. Our entire adult lives we have made all the basic decisions regarding our life. And this decision is so basic it fits in the category of what to eat, breathing and how/where to live.
We now have a decision about the when, where and why of it. The accepted part is that it will be us making the decision. Making that decision is not always up to us, but we can prepare better for who will be making this decision for us. These (when, where and why) are discussions we should have with everyone in our family or those knowing our basic wishes.
We can take the when out of the equation but making decisions and being sure our decision advocate knows this ahead of time. Having firm, educated decisions in place is a must. Example, wanting to live in our home, even if that means I must have a caregiver and durable medical equipment to help. This is a decision that can be made in most situations. However, the decision (very possibly) needs to be put in place by someone (we have chosen) with the necessary tools to advocate for us in advance of a crisis.
Where is another part of the equation that needs to be thought through and developed prior to a crisis? Have the answers in advance and the advocate in the margins of the plan every step of the way. So where can be our home? Our current living arrangement or an assisted living, adult family home, skilled nursing home, all fall in to this category. The interesting part is should we think this through it could be a decision we can make for ourselves given some forethought and planning. Every person has a different idea of where they want to reside should they require some help getting through each day in a safe and best lifestyle manner.
One of the biggest factors in staying in our home is not financial asset, interestingly enough. It is how will we anticipate our needs and can apply our ADL’s (activities of daily living). This is the advance thinking that must be in place. ADL’s are those necessary activities to keeps us safe and healthy. So how will we eat if we are in our home, how will we get our food, who will prepare our food and can that happen regularly. How will we get help if we have a crisis, this is an especially important one. Can we access help and get ourselves out of a life-threatening situation? Certainly, calling 911 is easy enough, the challenge is do we recognize a situation as being life threatening and remain calm enough to call 911 and get away from the danger. Along with this we must also be able to keep our body clean and get the trash out of the house, navigate the house or apartment from front door to kitchen to bedroom or bathroom, can if we are in a wheelchair transfer to the toilet. So as we can see this is very important and will require some thought to have in place.
The first two topics can be answered with either a desire to achieve living in our home with some help and resigning ourselves to life will change and if we can do this we can remain in my own home. Certainly, we need an advocate to help rally the professionals around us and to help acquire the necessary items to achieve success. The ‘who’ of the thought process needs to be a person with significant knowledge to come to the table of planning and advocate for you as having (1) made this decision (no matter which decision we are discussing) with presence of mind and preplanning. This person can be a neighbor, family member, spouse, clergy and so on. The main qualifiers are length of friendship, knowledge of lifestyle, the ability to express your prior planning and knowledge of daily decisions.
While it may seem this is written for only those who wish to remain in their own home, that is far from the truth. We will find our decision can be necessary for staying in our own home, assisted living apartment, adult family home or skilled nursing facility. Today we have many choices and at each juncture we will need to have a plan for remaining true to our decision.
Whether we are financially independent or living through the assistance of the state, these decisions are available to us. Whether we live in our own home, apartment or reside with others in an adult family home or assisted living, these decisions are still available to us. We can even get ourselves out of a nursing home and back to our own living arrangement with some forethought and planning. The only place I can see a problem is for the decision to be homeless by choice. As sad as it may seem if a person is homeless by choice, the medical professionals would probably opt for a more easily managed setting to protect the person.
An advocate can with perseverance can get us almost any living arrangement have planned and decided we want. An apartment in a housing complex can remain our home although it may require some advocating to continue being our residence. Our home in a senior living complex can remain our home with some advocating and tenacity. These are certainly not times for people or sassies.
Next time: How to advocate for others and ourselves.