You are in a bind. You need to make some big decisions about where to live. You had planned to remain at home in your later years—i.e., to age in place. you love your home. You are comfortable there. You have invested love and money in making it exactly the way you want it. you know your way around the neighborhood; you have friends. You think it might take a crowbar to pry you loose.
Yet, your grown children are less than enthusiastic about your long-term plan. They are looking ahead and seeing some real downsides to your staying where you are. For one thing, the house is not new, and it’s taking money to keep it up—money they think could be put to better use. Besides the money, just keeping it tidied up and clean is a lot of work, and they can see that upkeep, inside and out, is taking a toll.
Finally, they are quite aware of the changes you will face down the road, even if you haven’t encountered them if you are still driving, they are probably not too happy about that. You think you’re a fine driver, but you’ve never put that belief to the test. Your children know that the skills necessary for safe driving—vision, reflexes, flexibility, and hearing—begin to deteriorate as people age. You may have already noticed some decline but are perhaps not ready to confront that reality. In fact, giving up your car is about the worst thing you can think of.
Most of all your children are worried about your safety, and if you’re honest you will admit there is plenty to worry about these days. Even if you keep your house neat as a pin, there is the potential for accidents everywhere you look in your home—the stairs, floors, and carpeted area; the kitchen and bathroom—and places you may never have thought about, such as the Internet, the grocery store parking lot, and your back yard. And then there are things you probably have thought of, including intruders, strangers, ice on your front stairs or walk.
What they are most worried about, and if you’re not, you should be, is the possibility of falls. the older you get, the more common and risky falling becomes. What’s more, falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Here are some statistics to put falling into perspective: Falls lead to 10-15 percent of all emergency-room visits. People over sixty-five account for more than 50 percent of injury-related hospitalizations due to conditions ranging from hip fractures to traumatic brain injuries. Falls are responsible for 40 percent of all injury deaths.
This litany of worries should help you understand why your children are concerned about you remaining in your home. There is one way you could still “age in place” and that is to have caregivers come to your home and help you with whatever you need. There are organizations that provide trained professionals to fill that role. If that idea is not a good fit, there are other options to consider. One is a retirement community where there are other people your age and lots of activities. Another is assisted living if you find that you do need some help. the assisted living staff will assess how much help you need and provide that level of support. Often these facilities are associated with long-term health accommodations and memory care, all on one campus.
The last option may be the very thing you said you would never do: live with your children.
Continued in Part II – Living with Your Adult Children – How to Make it Work