As you age, your living arrangements will occasionally require an objective appraisal of your aging physiology. Evaluate your basic day-to-day needs to ask questions about your ability to live alone.
- Do you require help on a daily basis? Do you get it?
- Can you complete everyday tasks, such a preparing a meal, without feeling exhausted or confused?
- Does getting behind the wheel to run regular chores, such as grocery shopping, cause stress or anxiety?
- Has the quality of your life suffered because of physical, mental or emotional challenges?
These are some of the toughest questions you will ever have to answer, but an honest appraisal of your limitations is necessary to avoid the onset of further complications and to maintain the quality of your life.
Mobility concerns remain an insurmountable issue attributing to the logistics of longevity. Often, the decision to stop living alone is expedited by other events, such as relinquishing your driving privileges. According to “The Handbook on Neuropsychology of Aging and Dementia,” drivers aged 65 and above are significantly more likely to be involved in crashes at intersections, stop signs, while turning against oncoming traffic and while changing lanes. The study explains that these types of moving crashes are viewed as “high risk” since they can result in significant injuries. Inability to run errands with your own vehicle can be a seen as a minor inconvenience that is easily solved with the help of good friends and family.
Transportation needs can also be supplemented with community transportation services that cater to seniors, with drop off and pick up service to local grocery stores and to handle personal errands and doctor’s appointments. Household chores may also become burdensome on a regular basis, particularly if you have a traditional home that also requires lawn care and regular maintenance. You may opt to hire professional services, such as a maid and lawn maintenance company, however, remember to factor the extra expenses into your budget for the long haul, or recruit family members to help out.
If you’re not quite ready to vacate the premises, explore the idea of a roommate arrangement as a stepping stone that can eventually lead to living with your children or other family members. By inviting someone you trust, such as a close sibling or mature relative, into your home, you can share the burden of performing regular chores, including cooking and cleaning. This strategy may enable you to delay moving into a relative’s home while giving you some extra companionship. Financial perks could also ease monthly bills by sharing utility and/or housing expenses with a live-in relative or close friend. Opt to select a roommate that is in reasonably good health, has a regular income and access to a reliable vehicle available for trips to the grocery or other household errands.
A family experiencing an economic downturn quickly learns to appreciate the potential contributions of their retired parents, including the perks of receiving part of a regular retirement pension income to help meet living expenses while trying to secure regular employment. In those cases, seek out the potential win-win, in which the caregiver realizes extra financial security in exchange for providing quality senior care of a loved one. Discuss this type of living arrangement with other siblings and family members first to get their feedback prior to committing to a permanent arrangement.
It’s often hard to admit when you need help, especially if you cherish your independence. Avoid denial by recognizing that your body and mind has more limitations – and moves slower than when you were younger, and be willing to ask for and receive help when it is needed. If living alone has restricted your lifestyle or adversely affected your health or well-being, consider a move with relatives to be a potential lifeline to your longevity.
When you consider the options, which may include nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and roommate arrangements, moving in with family may be the most logical solution. Who better to trust with your well-being than a beloved and trusted member of your family? Discuss your options with everyone involved to avoid confusion or misunderstanding and include financial, transportation and health concerns in the conversation, along with any other issue requiring clarification. Be prepared to contribute to monthly living expenses, and specify your need for any personal requirements, such as bathroom grab bars and a smoke-free environment.
Moving in with family members is a decision that should be made with consideration of all persons that are affected by the change, including children within the household. Discuss the changes that will directly affect living conditions, such as bedroom re-assignments, bathroom schedules and mealtime planning considerations (seniors often have different dietary needs and eating schedules than busy families).
Focus on the positive aspects of blended generations within the family structure. Strive for maintaining a solid foundation that can instill old-fashioned ethics and values. Seniors have time to reflect on life’s trials and adventures with hindsight perspective and have invaluable experience worth sharing with younger generations. A residency change can be life-affirming for you and your family, while increasing your longevity – if pursued with the right attitude.