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How to Stay in the Place you Call Home.

 

Accessible Barrier Free Kitchen Counter

A global aging healthcare crisis is upon us.

Locally in the province of Ontario, 85% of people over the age of 65 want to continue living at home, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).

How will society cope with rising long-term care demands? Not to mention costs that are spiralling out of control at a time when governments are unable to pay, due to growing budget deficits.

Thankfully, we can breathe a sigh of relief, as there are alternative solutions to this pending crisis.

Today, the most common approach for seniors to live out their golden years is referred to as “aging in place or home health care”.  This idea is simple, convenient and is often the preferred choice to live a satisfying and fulfilling life. The idea is built on a five part strategy known as A.G.I.N.G.  ‘in place’. It consists of proven key success factors for remaining at home instead of moving into a long-term care facility.

Access support. Family members, friends and community are essential

Guidance. People with experience can ease the burden of coping with change.

Independence. Begins at childhood and is devastating when lost.

Navigate.Resources are available when help is needed.

Garner safety. Ensure that the environment will not produce a fall or injury.

In modern society, most parents find it difficult to accept help from their adult children. Resistance is not about being a stubborn parent. It is a fact of built-in human neurology that “a parent is the care giver” and this does not change as we age. For children, the best way to assist a parent is to show them how their  decisions help you.  It is important to have an open honest conversation with your parent about how you both feel about nursing homes.

If visiting a parent in a nursing home upsets you or your children, consider offering to visit them more frequently in their own home. Remember, this is the place filled with lifelong memories.  Loneliness is one of the predominant reasons why many seniors choose to move into long-term care facilities. They may suffer from loss of friendships or the ability to get out and socialize. Family, friends and outside resources need to be available if loneliness or depression becomes prevalent.

There are many great resources available online to help guide families through their transition. If a parent is reluctant to accept your concerns and suggestions, do remember that they are still your parents. More often than not, children come to realize that the most effective way to assist a parent in making an important lifestyle decision is to bring in a third party expert. An expert can assist with deciding which options are most suitable for a parent based on their lifestyle and goals. The following educational resources will assist in making well-informed choices:www.eldercarecanada.cawww.ccac-ont.cawww.cilt.ca

All people want to be able to live a high quality of life independently aging at home, regardless of how old they are. When a person suddenly becomes disabled, the fear and loss of independence can be traumatic. At this stage, it is very important that the person received support and assistance in coping with this dramatic change in lifestyle. Most people living with a lifelong disability are often in a position to inspire and motivate others by sharing their story and experiences about how to achieve and live an independent lifestyle.

Government funding continues to shift and adapt to changing needs. While government is reducing support for care in hospitals and nursing homes, they are increasing funding that is directed at making homes accessible. This is occurring because it is essential. The following government resources for home modification are available to the public:www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca,  www.marchofdimes.ca,  www.ccac-ont.ca

Accessibility is a key requirement for safety. The more accessible the home environment is, the greater the possibility to remain at home for the long term. The responsibility of evaluating the home and its surroundings goes to the job of an Occupational Therapist who is qualified not only in assessing the individual’s functional capabilities, but also in making recommendations for adapting the environment to fit the needs of those residing in the home.

Occupational Therapy support and Home Modification specialists can be found at the website www.ccac-ont.ca.

Additional assistance may be needed to perform daily routines safely. The Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) is the governing organization individuals need to contact in order to access and benefit from the limited caregiver support, which is paid by the government. Support can also be accessed nationally through private organizations such as Bayshore Home Health. Additional information can be found at the website www.bayshore.ca

The bottom line for a rapidly aging population is about offering an alternative including barrier free accessible home environments that increase mobility and reduce the need for care. Accessibility offers tremendous opportunities for Independent Living by removing obstacles while performing everyday routine tasks that are essential for a rich and rewarding quality of life.

 

Ronny Wiskin, Founder

Reliable Living Centre. 416-502-9200

ronnywiskin@reliableliving.com

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Aging In Place, Is Your House Still Your Home?

Home, a place with familiar surroundings having provided years of memorable events.

Staying in your own home might still be the best option.

By Ronny Wiskin

Why are so many mature adults moving after investing a considerable amount of time and resources into their properties? Before making that decision, why not investigate options that are available to remain in the home you love.

The thought of relocation begins when routines like personal hygiene, cleaning, preparing meals and social activities becomes too difficult to manage. It can feel like moving is the only option to retain dignity and independence. But does moving from a 2000 sq/ft plus home into a 500 sq/ft nice facility or dorm room make sense?

Many people will store, sell or give away belongings and downsize to a smaller home that seems easier to maintain when home becomes an obstacle course filled with challenges at every turn. The plan is referred to as retirement or independent living community.When moving into retirement living, people want a more manageable lifestyle.

A common belief is that moving into a retirement community means that help will be available whenever it’s needed. It’s also believed that moving into an independent living building means that the environment will meet long term accessibility needs for varying levels of ability.

Unfortunately, this is not possible in either scenario because barrier free design features are not a current requirement under local municipal building codes and assistance with homemaking or personal care is too costly to include in monthly maintenance or rental fees for most of these facilities. Yes there is a social appeal (people like to make new friends.) Certainly, many amenities and services are offered outside your designated living space.

But community centres and other social environments and programs for senior adults are available in most neighborhoods.Retirement living communities offer another option. However they can also present many of the same challenges as staying in the existing home.

If an injury or illness occurs, performing activities of daily living can be difficult to manage independently no matter where you live. Help should be brought into the home when individual attention is needed. Moving into a nursing home is a common solution for people that require full time assistance, although this personal help will cost over and above the standard living expenses.

This is why many of today’s senior adults are choosing to make adaptations to their current homes in order to meet their long term accessibility and care needs. Bringing a mix of independent and government provided care services into the family home is a consideration that avoids having to move while natural changes in lifestyle occur.

In Ontario, housing built before and during the 1900’s was not designed with barrier free living or wheel friendly access in mind. This is largely because local municipal building codes do not specify accessibility as a mandatory requirement for residential construction. Today there is a greater demand for accessibility being recognized. The standards are beginning to improve.

What can be done in order to remain in the home you love? Modifications can be made to houses, condominiums, retirement homes and long term care facilities in order to age in place. These adaptations are made so that residents are able to live, work and play to the best of their abilities with reduced need for assistance.

Examples of how these changes can be made are listed as a resource for some of the most practical home modifications made for independent living and fall prevention to ensure long term accessibility.

Entrances & Pathways
• Upgrading lighting that surround pathways and entrances for increased visibility.
• Leveling pathways and entrances eliminates trip hazards.
• Security upgrades can keep unwanted visitors away.
• Handrails, ramps and porch lifts increase safety and accessibility for mobility devices such as walkers, canes, wheelchairs and scooters.
• Widening of doorways allows for clear passage of mobility aides and devices throughout the home.

Stairwells & Living areas
• Lighting upgrades inside the home increases visibility of trip hazards such as belongings left on the floor or even a small pet.
• Removal or securing throw rugs will minimize risks associated with falls.
• Handrails on both sides of the staircase and adding a “No-Skidding” floor surface to stair treads makes climbing stairs safer.
• Installation of stair glides makes getting up and down levels safer for those having difficulties with mobility or balance.
• Elevators or vertical platform lifts are installed between two levels or multiple levels to achieve complete wheel friendly access for multi level dwellings.

Kitchens & Bathrooms
• Installation of full extension glides in existing lower cabinets including under sinks and pantries will allow for easy access to pots, pans, dishes, glasses etc. without the need of bending and crouching or the dangerous use of step stools.
• Installation of shower rails, increases bathroom safety and ease of use.
• “No-skidding” floor treatments reduce slip and fall hazards on wet floors.
• “Safety Bath” tubs make bathing safer and easier for people with mobility challenges.
• Barrier free showers provide independent access to showering for people of all abilities.

 

a trained professional to perform a safety and comfort assessment can help identify risks and prevent major injuries at home. You will begin to realize that by making the appropriate changes it will allow you to live more comfortably and remain independent in your own home for as long as you want!

Ronny Wiskin, Aging at Home Consultant
Founder of Reliable Independent Living Services® www.reliableliving.com

Email or phone for a free special report 416-502-9200 info@reliableliving.com

© 2011 the above can not be copied or published without the written consent of the author.

published in HELPS HERE Magazine, Fall / Winter 2011

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Reliable Independent Living Services® design and install barrier-free living spaces. They have the experience and resources needed in order to transform any work or living place into a comfortable, barrier-free environment.