When is Aging in Place Wrong?
By CarePatrol of Baltimore
Studies indicate over 80% of seniors want to spend the rest of their life in their home, a concept called aging in place. Most companies, agencies, and senior care professionals work toward that goal. There are however some exceptions to aging in place as the desired lifestyle. The first is safety, and the second is social.
A reminder of Safety Or Social is SOS, the universal call for help. Let’s examine twenty areas of concern that need to be addressed for safety:
- Forgetting to take medications – or taking more than the prescribed dosage (or sharing)
- Diagnosis of an identified dementia or Alzheimer’s - forgetfulness
- Spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away – poor diet or forgetting to eat
- Dirty house, extreme clutter and dirty laundry piling up – decline in grooming
- Missing important appointments, especially doctor’s appointments
- Unexplained bruising, or continual skin tears that invite infection
- Trouble getting up from a seated position or trouble getting out of bed
- Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility – unexplained dents on a car
- Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
- Expenditures for un-needed repairs or purchases – changes in activities
- Infrequent showering or bathing – use of perfumes to mask
- Stacks of unopened mail – late payment notices – bill collectors
While each of those 12 is of great concern there are situations that make out-of-home placement an urgent priority for the safety of the senior:
- Wandering from home (or driving and not remembering how to get home)
- Frequent medication mistakes, especially if medications are for a disease
- Unsafe behavior like leaving the stove on or front door unlocked.
- Cannot afford an in-home caregiver for an adequate number of hours
- Physical abuse of a spouse, caregiver or self-neglect
- Lack of adequate fluids or nutrition
- Increased falls
- Signs of depression
While safety is key, the last item (depression) is often a link to a need for social interaction. The National Institute on Aging reported studies that show social relationships are consistently associated with biomarkers of health and social isolation constitutes a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality.
Those without adequate social interaction were twice as likely to die prematurely. Social isolation impairs the immune system and boosts inflammation. Even worse, in our society people are reluctant to admit to loneliness.
Seniors want to participate in social activities and need to be with other people, but the opportunities are often reduced and a resulting focus on self then moves thoughts to negativity. In these cases, they can become trapped in their home by a lack of mobility and loss of family and friends. The social interaction in communal living like independent and assisted living communities often helps.
If your family has an SOS, call us at CarePatrol. Our free community service finds an immediate solution.