It’s the Little Things
Study after study confirms what most of us already know- people want to age in place. We like to be surrounded by our things in the comfort of our own space. Our chair has molded to our rear, our dishes with the faded flowers and tiny chip serve has reminders of the time our grandbaby “helped” wash the dishes. This is home.
The impact of COVID on residents of congregant care settings have increased our desire to remain home.
What we don’t often talk about are the little things that can become big things. Like the Little Dutch Boy with his finger in the dyke, aging in place can feel like trying to stop one little problem from busting the whole wall.
First, there is the concern for social isolation. Sitting in the house by yourself, disconnected from your family, neighbors, or community can be as detrimental to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation has been linked to earlier onset dementia, high blood pressure and a greater risk for colds and flu. Get out of the house! Join your local Senior Center, Community Center, religious organization or volunteer organization.
Transportation to get where you need, or want, to go is sometimes a barrier to getting out of the house. If it’s the doctor’s office, Senior Center, or Senior meal site that you need to go to you may be eligible for Rhode Islands elderly transportation services, the Medicaid transportation services, the RIDE program or a RIPTA bus pass. Ah- but what if it’s an event at a local library, the grandkids graduation, or a wedding, or funeral? Several locations around the state host Cyber-Seniors programs that can help you learn how to use the Uber or Lyft app. There are services available if you need someone to wait with you at the oral surgeon, or while you have a medical procedure done.
Medication management can be a challenge. Polypharmacy can come with issues of medications interacting. There is also the common problem of child-safety lock tops on the bottles. Many pharmacies offer lids that can be reversed so they can be opened more easily. The challenge of arthritis or neuropathy can make it very hard for your fingers to get the pill out of the bottle. Several local and regional pharmacies can prepack your medications into either bubble-packs or tear open sleeves.
An often-overlooked need that can improve, or impede, your ability to age in place is the access to a handyman service. You need to move your flowered dishes down from the top shelf but that requires you to climb a step-stool-not a safe choice. The ceiling light should have brighter light bulbs to reduce your risk for falling. The wiggly hand rail on the front steps needs to be tightened. Your chair, that perfectly fits your rear, needs to be moved over a bit so you can have a clear wide walking path to the bathroom.
In the current booming economy, many contractors are busy building houses, or adding new additions to old houses. They don’t have time for small jobs. You may need a handyman. Anyone that is doing repairs or alterations on your home must be registered with the Rhode Island State Contractors Board and have a minimum of $500,000 in liability insurance.
Don’t wait for the Little Dutch Boy to come along to help you age in place! Take action now to live a long life at home.