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April 15, 2015

What Should I Ask if My Parents Are Considering Aging in Place?

When it’s time for your parents to consider aging in place options, it can feel somewhat scary. You may feel as though nobody understands all of the challenges you’re facing. Perhaps your parents are determined to remain in their home and you are uncertain what that entails. After all, Grandma and Grandpa went to a nursing home.

The reality is that you aren’t alone. In fact, millions of people are probably going through the same general decision-making process you are. According to AARP, 87 percent of people aged 65 and up want to stay in their current home and community; when polling adults aged 50 to 64, 71 percent say they want to age in place. So, it’s clear that literally millions of people wish to remain at home as they age.

So, here are guidelines to assist in that process.

First, be sure to pick the right setting and strategy for bringing up the subject with your parents – or be ready and willing to discuss it when they raise the topic themselves. RealSimple.com offers some communication strategies to consider.

Questions to Ask

AARP provides a checklist of 35 questions you should discuss with your parents to help them determine what needs to be done in order to modify their home, manage their daily activities, deal with mobility and transportation needs, manage their health and health care, and handle their finances as they age. You might want to do an assessment of their physical and mental health, as well as their medication use, dietary habits, and more as you mull through options.

Be sure to focus on what your parents will need on a daily or weekly basis. Are they able to handle their housework needs – or do they need help? Would it be helpful if their groceries were delivered? What kind of help do your parents need with obtaining and taking appropriate medications and getting the proper medical care?

Transportation Challenges

Forbes.com explores a key point mentioned by AARP in more depth – and that is whether or not your parents are still able to drive. If so, then the situation is easier. If not, then it’s important to help them find ways to be transported to the doctor and dentist, to the bank and church, and to social activities that keep them engaged and socially active. How much can family and friends pitch in consistently? Are there local churches, non-profit agencies, and/or volunteer groups that provide transportation?

Home Safety

Here’s a second point Forbes.com covers in more detail: Is your parents’ home safe and in good repair? Are there repairs that should be made now to future-proof the home’s safety? Are there modifications that should be made, perhaps moving the laundry room  somewhere that doesn’t require a parent going up and down stairs? Should kitchen counters be lowered in anticipation of wheelchair use? Would brighter lights be useful, especially ones operated by remote control?

The National Association of Home Builders provides a checklist of modifications to consider.

Perhaps your parents are considering the sale  of their current home and buying something that’s more practical? That might mean selling a two-story home for a one-story in order to eliminate the challenges of stairs.

More Considerations

Finally, don’t overlook the small stuff. PBS lists smaller tips that can make a big difference in your parents’ lives as they age in place. This includes choosing low-vision keyboards so that computer use is easier – which will help them keep in touch with friends and family and give them access to numerous health-related tools and apps.

Other PBS tips include installing bed rails to make it easier for your parents to get up in the morning – or zipper pulls on clothing to make getting dressed and undressed a smoother experience.

Sure there’s lots to consider – and we can help.

Contact Kendal at Home when you’re ready to discuss options for your aging parents.

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