There are many sources of advice and help for seniors who want to grow old in their home. Here’s an initial list:
Aging safely in your own home doesn’t happen by accident. Accidents at home are a common reason seniors move into a facility, yet a few precautions can help keep them healthy and happy at home.
• Get a home monitoring system that can detect falls and call for help.
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• Install home modifications, such as grab bars, walk-in showers and stair lifts.
• Use a walker or cane if your doctor recommends it.
• Remove throw rugs. Even if they don’t move, they can still trip you.
Assess your caregiving needs
Sometimes, having the assistance of a caregiver makes the difference between staying at home or moving out. Assess what kind of help you might need, then contact volunteer or paid resources in the community that provide such service.
Not everyone has family nearby, so get to know your neighbors. Visit a senior center or coffee shop. Attend a house of worship or a hobby club. You’ll find that people have more in common with you than you might realize. Pets are nonjudgmental friends; visit Whatcom Humane Society and give a home to a loving dog or cat.
Prove you can live alone
Your children and friends might be concerned about you, so show them you know what you’re doing.
• Keep your home clean and uncluttered, even if you have to hire help to do so.
• Eat properly, and be sure to toss out expired food.
• Pay your bills on time. If necessary, find a bookkeeper to help.
• Don’t respond to strange phone calls saying you have won a contest, or to mail asking you for money.
Recognize your limitations
As much as we would all like it, our ability to do things changes as we grow older. Be aware and accepting of those changes. It’s normal to lose sight or hearing acuity, to be less flexible, and to be more susceptible to injury. At some point you might not be able to drive. Knowing how to age gracefully helps you to age in place.
•Whatcom County Council on Aging
oversees Meals on Wheels, Bellingham Senior Activity Center, Whatcom County Senior Tour Program, Bellingham at Home, and low-income senior housing. Details: 360-733-4030 andwccoa.org
•Northwest Regional Council’s Aging and Disability Resources
program has information about in-home care, medical insurance, caregiver support, senior housing, residential care options, and other general resources, including legal issues, taxes and transportation. Details: 360-738-2500 andnwrcwa.org