Saturday, February 07, 2015

Six ways to prepare to age well

Well, when I saw that heading, I said, “Too late.”  But these are good reminders published in Health Beat, Harvard Medical School.

  1. Adapt your home. Stairs, baths, and kitchens can present hazards for older people. Even if you don't need to make changes now, do an annual safety review so you can make necessary updates if your needs change. [When we remodeled out bathrooms we put in taller base cabinets and “comfort height toilets. Some recent changes in the kitchen, although not sure those will make any difference.]

  2. Prevent falls. Falls are a big deal for older people - they often result in fractures that can lead to disability, further health problems, or even death. Safety precautions are important, but so are exercises that can improve balance and strength. [I’m nagging my husband a lot about the ladder and yard work.  We have hired a service for our lake house. We’re both in exercise classes and balance and strength are part of the routine.]

  3. Consider your housing options. You might consider investigating naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs). These neighborhoods and housing complexes aren't developed specifically to serve seniors - and, in fact, tend to host a mix of ages - but because they have plenty of coordinated care and support available, they are senior-friendly. [We’ve been living in a NORC since 2002 and love it. We wanted a one floor plan, but have 3, and so far it hasn’t been a problem.  The grounds are gorgeous, and the neighbors the best.]

  4. Think ahead about how to get the help you may need. Meal preparation, transportation, home repair, housecleaning, and help with financial tasks such as paying bills might be hired out if you can afford it, or shared among friends and family. Elder services offered in your community might be another option. [I have some friends in their 90s, and am watching carefully. Elder services seem to be quite good in our area. The kitchen repainting was done by professionals this winter.]

  5. Plan for emergencies. Who would you call in an emergency? Is there someone who can check in on you regularly? What would you do if you fell and couldn't reach the phone? Keep emergency numbers near each phone or on speed dial. Carry a cellphone (preferably with large buttons and a bright screen), or consider investing in some type of personal alarm system. [We recently got new phones; bigger numbers, but I still like phones with a little heft.  These feel like they’d break if dropped, and the sound quality isn’t that great. We aren’t in the habit of carry cell phones.]

  6. Write advance care directives. Advance care directives, such as a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, or health care proxy, allow you to explain the type of medical care you want if you're too sick, confused, or injured to voice your wishes. Every adult should have these documents. [We’ve got the funeral/burial stuff purchased, and wills, and power of attorney, but best of all, our children live close buy.  A family is the best safety net.]

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