No one wants to move; everyone wants to be independent. This does not change. Yet despite that mentality, elders end up in retirement communities and assisted living. Why?
You may be surprised to learn that, what makes it hard to keep seniors in their homes is all the little things – not the big stuff. The little stuff being things like:
- Navigating upstairs
- Holding utensils and kitchenware
- Taking daily pills
Making the ‘big’ stuff things like driving, cooking, or home maintenance (yard, housework, plumbing, etc).
If you’re an adult child, you may be thinking, ‘Shouldn’t it be the opposite?’ But that’s the truth. Our sense of balance is one of the first things to go. That may not affect your driving, but it will affect walking upstairs – which arguably, you do more of anyway. In addition, our dexterous motor skills (to brush our teeth, eat with chopsticks, and shave) give way long before we’re able to stop gripping a steering wheel. That’s just it though, the things you don’t notice – don’t even think about – are the first things you need help with.
When you’re a senior, no one faults you for being unable to hang up the Christmas lights on the roof… but if you can’t hold a spoon steadily to your mouth, then you’re in trouble. It is embarrassing. And it’s why most seniors move.
Most people move into assisted living for help with meal preparation and medication organization. It’s been estimated that most elders living in assisted living take anywhere from 4-7 medications daily. And, as we’ve blogged about in the past, those medications aren’t bad… so long as they take them at the right time of day. It’s not as simple as popping them into their respective Sunday through Saturday boxes, but to be on point, you’d need several boxes within each day for the different times to take them. If you don’t take the medication at the right time, it can lead to serious side-effects!
In addition, meal preparation should be an obvious reason to move since, if you’re working around stovetops and open flames, and can’t quite grip the pot with the oven mitt on, you can suffer indescribable pain. That’s why these are the most commonly sought after resources.
Keeping Seniors in their Homes
If you want your elderly parent to stay in their home as long as possible – and not be trapped in their home – then, the best thing to do is practice those fine motor skills. Of course any physical therapist can direct you as to what those are, but even regularly drawing, painting, playing an instrument (piano, flute, trumpet) can help.
That saying, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ isn’t true when you get older. If anything, let the big things go to maintain control.