You love your house, but does your house love you back?
When I ask older adults what their goals are, I often get this response: “I want to spend the rest of my life here; I never want to go to a nursing home!”
Sally just came home after spending a week in the hospital. She fell one night on her way to the bathroom. She thought she was alright but could not get up. Her phone was in her robe pocket, draped over the chair. It wasn’t until the next morning when her daughter didn’t get an answer, that Sally got help. The police had to break down the door to get in and they sent her to the ER.
Sally and Ben loved their home and spent a lot of time planting flowers and shrubs over the years. Every season there was a new display of colorful flowers. Since Ben died, Sally does not garden anymore. She eats her meals alone looking out the window at overgrown plantings. She pays someone to mow the lawn, but the house is looking a little tired. The brick walk that was so welcoming when they planned it so many years ago is now a trip hazard. There are four steps to the front door and they never got around to installing railings. She now avoids this entrance and goes in and out through the garage, where there are only two steps to get into the house.
She remembers their trip to Turkey where they bought the little rug at the bazaar that now greets her at the door. Another trip hazard. Sally’s once sparkling house is a little dingy. She cannot see the dust bunnies hanging out in the corner or the splashed water stains on the mirror. She sighs as she looks up the stairs (14, she counted) and the pictures of her children when they were growing up. The only bathroom is upstairs with the bedrooms, and the laundry is down in the basement. What worked so well when the kids were little now works against her. The house is quiet, and she is lonely.
Sally does not need a nursing home, but is there a third way? Aging in the Community is rapidly replacing aging in place. Senior housing with supports, independent living, retirement community and congregate housing are all names places older adults live that also provides meals, maintenance, and services. Sally has privacy within her own apartment, but she has neighbors, shares meals in the dining room downstairs, has access to transportation and there is always someone around if she needs help or doesn’t want to be alone.
If you love your house, but your house doesn’t love you back, call the experts at Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions–they will help you make the housing choice that is right for you!
Ask Ally is written by Malka Young, LICSW, Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions