Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Smart Steps for Growing Older

Throughout our lives, things change. Whether it's from childhood to the teenage years or middle age to early senior status, there's no denying that things in our new life stage won't be quite the same as things in the old one.

When those changes involve reduced independence, they can be very difficult to accept. However, whether we accept them or not, they are coming, and we need to be prepared to deal with them.

For those of us reaching senior citizen age, there are many different issues we need to think about. Some can be a little intimidating, but the most important thing to remember is that when you make a change by choice, it can keep you from having to make a change without a choice.

One of the most common ones is a reduction in mobility. After many years of working hard and playing hard, sometimes our bodies just don't have the balance or range of motion that they once did, or at least not without pain.

Fortunately, creative people in health care have come up with some great products that can do a lot to minimize the impact of lower mobility. For people who may be able to move around unassisted for daily activities but may need some help with longer distances, the bulky wheelchair has been replaced by a compact electric wheel chair that provides all the help they need without taking up half the car and requiring assistance to move around.

Another common transition for seniors is in their living arrangements. Oftentimes the sprawling multi-level home where they raised the family is too big to keep up, too difficult to get around in, or too far from close friends. As a result, they end up moving to a senior residential development of some kind, which could be anything from an apartment to a townhouse or any of countless other options.

Developments like these are built to be comfortable and safe for senior residents, with difficult maintenance tasks and even meals provided by staff. This reduces the burden of daily living and allows seniors to avoid the most difficult or dangerous tasks, letting them focus on relaxing and socializing with friends and neighbors with similar interests.

One other option is for seniors to stay in their longtime homes but to get assistance with the most problematic tasks. An early choice here is often to hire someone for lawn care and house cleaning, but there are many other options available.

A good example is home health care. Seniors who are recovering from injuries or from events such as strokes or heart attacks can often benefit from in-home medical care from a nurse or other caregiver. These workers visit on a regular schedule and oversee things like physical therapy and medications.

They also provide companionship and monitor the senior for changes in health, such as increasing difficulty moving around or early signs of dementia, providing an earlier opportunity to intervene and slow the progression of these conditions. Home care is often covered by Medicare and private insurers, so the cost can be manageable.

No matter what age we are, we see changes in our lives with each new year. The question isn't whether things will stay the same but rather how we will adapt to those changes, and it's no different for people entering their golden years. Fortunately, a good plan for anticipating and reacting to these changes will help minimize their impact and help seniors maintain independence and quality of life.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

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