Adult child-turned-caregiver offers tips for aging in place

Keeping in mind concerns about home modifications and sensitivities for seniors who want to stay in their homes could be beneficial for reverse mortgage clients

Aging in place is the dominant preference among a raft of options aging seniors may have for later life. Particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic where congregate care settings emerged as sources of infection among seniors, recent data has shown that older Americans far and away prefer to remain in their own homes.

But ensuring that home is fashioned so that a person can age comfortably for the years ahead, sometimes, requires concerted effort. That’s why one adult child-turned-caregiver has offered a series of tips to help facilitate aging in place, which reverse mortgage professionals could find useful for a client seeking ways to apply their loan proceeds.

The National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted by the University of Michigan finds that 88% of surveyed adults between the ages of 50 and 80 applied a high importance level to living in their homes for as long as possible, according to the column published by NextAvenue.

“When my parents, in their late 70s, became ill with several chronic and terminal health ailments, my sisters and I worked to support them and honor their wishes to age in their home,” said Lisa Samalonis, the author of the piece. “Like many adult children and family friends new to this process, we were unaware of everything we did not know about the complexity of safely aging in place and the available resources.”

First up on the list for her and her siblings was minimizing in-home hazards, to make the home easier to traverse for their parents as they aged, which comes with natural impairments to walking and stepping.

“For example, we improved lighting, reduced clutter, and eliminated scatter rugs that did not have rubber backing,” she said of fashioning her parents’ home for aging in place. “For more tips, see the National Council on Aging‘s resource guide to minimize falls.”

Researching certain U.S. healthcare providers to find which can more readily support older populations can also have benefits if or when health complications occur, she said.

“Physicians from the same hospital system can more easily review digital records, and there isn’t a need for duplicate tests,” she explained. “This can save time and money and streamline the hospital discharge protocol.”

There is also value in being a present, vocal and polite advocate for the person under a loved one’s care, which can also translate into “assisting loved ones in entering their health portals and following up on test results, additional appointments and billing questions,” she said.

Other resources may be beneficial to seek out in the future to facilitate aging in place, and Samalonis includes a link to an eldercare locator offered by the U.S. government’s Administration for Community Living (ACL) that could help in situations that may call for it.

Other, more intangible elements come with being an adult caregiver. Compassion and recognition of an older adult’s circumstance can allow a caregiver to react and respond compassionately, while also preparing for a natural conclusion.

“A time comes when there is nothing left to do but hold their hand and sit beside them to honor their experience and their life,” Samalonis said. “Looking back, I know we carried out their desire to age in place the best we could, which is comforting even though I miss them dearly.”

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