"I'm not ready." It's a common phrase thrown out by aging adults to anyone who mentions the idea of moving out of a longtime home. Many factors feed this common sentiment, but most tend to be emotional. I love my home. I have memories here. Moving is too formidable.
If aging at home is your preferred option, it's important to consider what you may not be ready for if you stay. Here are the Top 10 Most Common Risks of Aging at Home:
1. Home Repair Expenses
As you age, so does your home. A new roof, a new heating and air conditioning system, or needed exterior paint--these are just a few of the major expenses that can put large dents in your nest egg.
2. Social Isolation
You may have friends and family that drop by for visits, but how often? Many older people fail to recognize how much time they spend in front of the TV each day and how little time they spend face-to-face with others. Studies show that social isolation can significantly reduce your lifespan. If you don't interact with people on a frequent basis, and if you aren't active with a community of people, then you are socially isolated.
Social isolation can lead to depression, but you can experience depression under other circumstances. People often suffer from clinical depression without realizing it, and the chances of this happening are greater if you live socially isolated at home. Ask yourself: Who would notice?
Many of the people who move to MRC communities report feeling "safe for the first time in years." Anxiety often results from feeling unsafe, and it can cause health problems such as insomnia, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
5. Lack of Help in Emergencies
Who would you call at 3am if a water pipe burst? If you fell and couldn't get up? How long would it take for someone to miss you? If you don't have adequate answers to these questions, the lack of reliable emergency help could be a big risk for you.
6. Fall Hazards
The risk of a traumatic injury due to a fall increases dramatically after age 65 and falls are a leading cause of death among older people. Do you have someone in your life who can help you spot fall risks in your home? Again, how long would it take for you to be missed if you fell and couldn't get to a phone?
Sure, you love to cook--for now. But as we age, we tire more easily and cooking could become a major undertaking. The temptation to grab cheese and crackers and a can of soup looms large for many. If you hate to cook now, how well would you rate your diet? Does it provide the nutritional value needed for successful aging, or are you already a cheese and cracker fan?
8. Unsanitary Living Conditions
Unmotivated, unable. Whichever the reason, maintaining basic housekeeping gets tougher as we age. This can result in unsanitary living conditions, which can further negatively affect your health.
9. Missed Symptoms
Even if you live with a spouse, unless they are a trained medical professional, symptoms of illness and disease can go unnoticed. Catching disease early can mean the difference between ability and disability, or life and death.
10. Medicine Mistakes
"Senior moment" may be a light-hearted way to explain forgetfulness, but it increasingly happens as we age and that, in turn, can have significant consequences when it comes to taking medicine. The risk of taking too many medications, or forgetting to take them at all, are dangers that should be seriously considered for those who choose to age at home.
At MRC, we continually meet people who tell us, "I'm not ready." If you want to age at home, we respect your choice. However, there are other choices that you may want to consider, especially given the risks associated with remaining at home through your advanced years. We advise people to at least consider having a plan for aging. So what is your plan? Move in with children? Hire in-home assistance? Stay in your home and wait for an event that forces you into a care situation? Investigate a retirement community?
Whatever you choose, keep quality of life as your main goal.