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What kinds of support do you need to stay in your home?
Most of us, regardless of age, want to stay in our own homes for as long as possible.
Did you know, according to Statistics Canada, that only five per cent of seniors over 65 years old live in residential care facilities?
Simple math points out that 95 per cent of people over 65 are living in their homes or move to a supportive housing environment designed for seniors.
Last column, readers were asked to mull over the question, "When would you consider moving from your home?
If the answer is, "The only way I'll leave my home is feet first" or in other words, "to age in place", the next questions to ask would focus on the "how."
What type of support are you willing to receive to keep yourself and/or your spouse as independent as possible? What type of help do you currently receive? Is your family able/willing to help?
The reality is that over 70 per cent of people 65 years and older require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime.
It may also mean asking yourself if your home needs modifying to meet age-related changes.
Do you have stairs? Can you install a ramp? Are hallways and doorways wide enough for mobility devices? Are bath/shower facilities amenable to changes in mobility?
Aging in place requires examining your support network and finances to better understand the costs of long-term care, not just monetary but the emotional and physical costs to those caring for you.
Staying put is more challenging with limited mobility. Not being able to leave your home can lead to isolation, depression and loneliness.
If your answer includes responses such as, "When I'm no longer able to cook for myself," "when I'm no longer able to do personal care," "if my husband dies before me," then considering a more supportive housing option may be a good fit.
If some of following statements ring true, this may validate a move with more supports in place:
• I sometimes feel lonely or I live too far from town and no longer drive or feel comfortable driving under certain conditions.
• I worry about falling and not being found.
• I am not eating as well as I should be due to an inability to shop and prepare meals.
• I have trouble remembering to take my pills, or worry I have taken too many.
• Things like housekeeping, laundry, gardening are challenging and I have little energy left to enjoy life.
• My house is too big and I want to downsize.
• My home is difficult to move around in due to stairs, bathroom set-up, etc.
• I need regular assistance for activities such as bathing or dressing.
• I don't have family nearby to help with my future care.
A variety of seniors housing choices exist and there is no simple answer as to which one is right for you.
The next column expands on how to better assess your housing needs followed by a review of seniors housing options in B.C.
Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Thursday.