Shift to Aging in Place During and After COVID-19 Pandemic
We have all witnessed the heartbreaking effects COVID-19 has had on the senior population, from outbreaks and so many residents passing away in nursing homes, to isolation from friends and family. As a result, seniors and their families have begun rethinking where they want to age.
Most prefer to age at home. If that’s the case, here are some considerations:
Adapting Your Home or Apartment
Many seniors prefer to live in one-story homes so that they have full access to their living space. If your home has multiple stories, you’ll need to decide whether to transition to first floor living, move to a one-story home, or adapt your home so that the second floor is more accessible. If there is a step-down in your living area, you’ll need to have railings installed. And if you want to live or sleep upstairs, you’ll need a stair chair. You also need to think about how to get in the front door if there are steps. You may need to build a ramp for wheelchair accessibility.
Once you’ve decided upon a place to live, you’ll need to make some modifications within the home. Good lighting throughout the house and grab bars in the shower and bedroom will reduce the risk of falling. There should be no rugs in the living area since it is easy to slip and fall on them.
Make sure you have a backup power source to run medical equipment, particularly as we move into the winter months where power outages due to winter storms may be more frequent. And if you use oxygen, notify the power company that you’ll need an auxiliary power source. Ensure you have a reliable internet connection, along with a computer, iPad, or smartphone. That will allow you to have telehealth visits from home. You’ll also be able to connect with family and friends, which is important for good socialization, isolation prevention and overall sound mental health.
Look into organizations that may be able to help with your needs, such as Meals on Wheels or your local senior center. It’s also helpful to find a pharmacy that delivers medication so you or your loved one doesn’t need to leave their home. Post emergency information on your refrigerator. And make sure you have a healthcare proxy who can make decisions on your behalf.
Maria Burke, RN is owner and founder of Celtic Angels Home Health Care. The company, with offices in Weymouth and Needham, provides a full array of the highest quality in-home health care services with certified and skilled CNAs, HHAs, and RNs.