The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found that Australians of all ages would prefer to live independently at home for longer during their retirement years, rather than enter an aged care facility. The research also shows that there is a lack of community awareness around the aged care sector. As such, Australians who want to age at home should try to get informed early about the process.
There are many common issues for older people ageing in their own home. However, despite its challenges, many older people will still choose to stay in their own home long into their later years. This is known as ‘ageing in place’, and with some assistance and the right advice, it is achievable for many older adults.
Planning for Ageing in Place
Planning in advance can be difficult, as we don’t know exactly how our abilities and needs, or those of our spouse, may change as we get older. So, start by thinking about the necessary requirements for the near future. The following are some of the factors to take into consideration:
- Getting Around: Think about how you will get around at home or outdoors. Are you having trouble walking? Do you need someone to accompany you to go outside for appointments or groceries? If so, consider whether a walker or scooter would help, or perhaps you may need personal assistance from a volunteer, relative or friend.
- Entertainment: If you want to stay at home to retain independence, but you are feeling lonely or bored, there are a number of ways around this. Consider getting in touch with a local senior centre or a volunteer organisation that can provide someone to call in regularly.
- Safety: You may have concerns about your safety as you age at home. Organisations in your local area can help offer advice and support as well as practical strategies to ensure you can stay safe at home. For example, an emergency alert system may be of use.
- Practicality: It may be necessary to make certain changes to your home in order to ensure it is easier and safer to live in. For example, a ramp at the front door, grab bars in the bathroom, and better insulation may all be necessary for an older adult who wants to age in place. If the expense is putting you off, help may be available in the form of government assistance.
- Help During the Day: If you need more assistance, but the person you are living with can’t be there during the day, aged care services outside the home may be available.In some cases, centres will offer transport to pick up and take home participants.
Assistance for Ageing in Place
There are a number of places to go to for assistance with ageing in place. The following are some good starting points.
- Reach Out to Others: Speak to family, friends, and neighbours about your desire to stay living at home. The people who care about you will be an important source of help for ageing in place. Talk to those closest to you about the assistance you need and how you are going to get that from those in your life.
- Share the Load: If you are still able to do certain tasks, consider approaching a neighbour or friend and sharing the load with each other. For example, one person could go to the grocery store, and another could do jobs in the garden.
- Inform Yourself About Community Organisations: Learn about the local services that are available to you. Speaking to healthcare providers and social workers may be worthwhile, as they will know more about relevant organisations and who to get in touch with.
- Talk to Care Managers: Care managers who specialise in aged care are trained professionals who can help you find resources that will make your day-to-day life easier. These managers will help point you in the right direction to find the services you need. They are particularly useful in cases where family members are far away.
- Government Resources: Australian residents have access to My Aged Care, which has been set up by the Australian Government as a starting point for the aged care journey. This service provides access to government-funded services.
For more information on this article, or the other services that we provide, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Brain Sparks. You may consider joining our Ageing and Dementia Support Network Group aligned with the BrainSparks – Connections Facebook page to take part in our movement programs online.