Will my Mother forget to take her medicines or not remember to turn off the stove? Will my Dad have a fall in the shower or slip outside because he refuses to stop shovelling the driveway? How will they shop or get to the doctor when they definitely should not drive this winter. Of course, they want to stay in their home forever; it’s safe and it has been their home–and mine before!–for years!
And, with my work and own family, I just can’t be there every day to help as well as to prevent an accident!
As the Director of Living Assistance Services, I hear about these worries a lot, especially before winter. And, many adult children do not know what to do to keep their aging parents happy and safe in this challenging circumstance. As an agency which provides home care assistance to families and seniors in their own homes, we also frequently receive calls from family members who have a loved one currently in the hospital and the family has just recently been advised that their loved one is being discharged—“tomorrow!”
Over the next 20 years, Canada’s seniors’ population — those aged 65 and older — is expected to grow by 68%. And, over the last 40 years, it has more than tripled in size. Between 1977 and 1997, the seniors’ population grew from about 2 million to 3.5 million. In 2017, it amounted to about 6.2 million while, 20 years from then, in 2037, it is still expected to number more than 10.4 million.(1)
So, it behooves any family having an aging loved-one to consider their options for their elder loved ones in advance. And, what are the options? Let’s start with staying at home, the most desired preference for seniors in Ontario, and elsewhere.
What Are the Benefits of Aging in Place in your Own Home?
To begin with, it is far less expensive than moving elsewhere! Also, homes are not simply physical structures. They are our special ‘nests’ where we all find comfort and safety and where you have spent years creating memories.
There is something comforting about residing in the same place for years. You can continue investing in the property you’ve loved and maintained in a neighborhood with which you’re deeply familiar.
If you’ve already paid off your house, it may also make even more financial sense to continue living on the property. If your family and you feel that your health is worsening, you can still live at home. You can add various features to make your home more senior-friendly, enabling you to age there safely and securely. Caregivers, personal support workers, can help you with your health needs, personal care and household tasks, such as housework and laundry-even driving you shopping and to medical appointments– for whatever schedule you’d prefer. Now, also, there are nearby community centres with social and physical activities for active, and not-so-active seniors. And, there are new friends to be made or on-going friends to continue with for the future.
So, worry less about your aging parents this coming winter and beyond. But, it is advisable to start planning with them now as, like most seniors in Ontario, they will want to stay safely and happily at home this winter—and in the coming years!
- Canadian Institute for Health Information, Seniors in Transition: Exploring Pathways Across the Care Continuum, 1917.