Aging with Dignity and Joy

What We Believe

Happiness and aging do not have to be mutually exclusive terms. Growing old does not mean having to lose your dignity, independence, or the ability to maintain a fulfilling lifestyle in the surroundings of your choosing. However, the road to joyful aging is often the one less traveled because few seniors and their families take the time to create systems, set up supports, and manage the process so that it leads to happy and graceful aging.

Both God and the Devil Are in the Details

In our practice, we find that as people age, they begin to struggle with the little things, the simple details that, when added together, comprise critical parts of their physical, emotional, financial, and social health. Oftentimes, we take for granted things like keeping a clean house, going grocery shopping, taking our medicine, or balancing a checkbook. But the cumulative effect of losing the ability to do these simple activities of daily living can be incredibly demoralizing, cause social isolation, and impair the senior’s ability to live safely and healthfully at home, which an AARP 2003 report states is the one thing that seniors want to do most.

Adult Children to the Rescue! (And/Or Hire a Care Manager)

Adult children can play a critical role in helping their parents age safely at home with a sense of purpose, well-being, and self esteem. Planning for parents to stay in their home is a process that includes putting into place the fundamental building blocks that make the home a safe, comforting, and happy environment.

And if there are no adult children who live in town, geriatric care managers can help do many of the things the adult children would do if they lived close by. Even if there are adult children in town with time to help, geriatric care managers can still be incredibly helpful in assessing the situation, then recommending and implementing strategies that will support the aging parent. Regardless of who comes to the rescue, the following areas of concern need to be addressed:

Physical Requirements for the Home

An analysis of the home environment needs to be conducted to determine what should be added (or taken away) in order to make the home safe. Support bars in the bathroom and bedroom are always a good idea. If a cane, walker, or wheelchair is being used, clear, uncluttered paths are necessary for safe mobility. Throw rugs or loose carpet should almost always be removed together with extra furniture that crowds the living space. Safety features like smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, alarm systems, and personal medical alarms should be checked and functional.

Medical Needs

With regard to the health of the aging parent, simple things must be decided like who will schedule, transport, and attend doctors’ visits if the parent is not able to go alone. Prescription drugs must be managed from getting prescriptions filled, filling the pill manager box, and assuring that medications are being taken correctly. Part- or full-time home health care may be required now or in the future. Assessing area home care providers now will help when and if their services become needed later.

Financial and Legal Issues

Arrangements need to be made for daily money management like making bank deposits, paying bills, and keeping accounts reconciled. Your loved ones will need legal documents that will allow you to manage their health and finance needs when they no longer can. A living will, health care proxy, and durable powers of attorney for both healthcare and financial affairs should be readily available to the adult children when they are needed.

In-Home Support Systems

Finally, arrangements need to be made to help with the daily management of the home. Who will clean the house? Do the laundry? Take care of the yard? Arrange for transportation? Do the shopping and other errands? There are many service providers available to keep the home running smoothly and to help parents get out of the house to appointments and social occasions, helping avoid isolation and loneliness.