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Planning to stay in your home as you age

As people age, their ability to take care of themselves diminishes. Yet, people often want to remain in their own home as they age. While nothing about the aging process is certain or predictable, experts have prepared a number of steps that can increase a person's chances of remaining at home as they grow older.

The first step is planning for the aging process. A person should first review their current ability to take care of themselves. Any current limitations, such as the inability to bathe without assistance, will probably worsen. If a person lives alone, such limitations necessitate seeking outside care. Such care can be provided by family members, friends or professionals. A second step is to evaluate the impact of any illnesses, such as diabetes or emphysema, on a person or their spouse. Depending upon the seriousness of the illness, a care giver may have difficulty providing care for a diabetic or people with similar diseases.

Almost any kind of personal care is available at home, but many providers charge for their services. Occasionally, insurance or Medicare will pay part of the cost. Household chores can become a significant burden for anyone with a disability. Many people provide assistance with household chores, grocery shopping or food preparation. Programs such as "Meals on Wheels" can ensure that a person receives meals at least a few times a week. Other services provide assistance with money management, such as paying bills, depositing Social Security checks and similar payments. The ability to use a computer can be a significant help; computers can be used to pay bills, shop for groceries and clothing, and other tasks necessary for self-care.

Perhaps the most important aspect of self-care is obtaining proper health care. Many agencies provide transportation to and from medical appointments, and many providers help arrange the purchase and proper use of prescription drugs.

Finally, an important element of elder care is ensuring competent legal advice on matters such as wills, trusts, and disposing of property. An experienced special need planning attorney can also provide invaluable assistance in dealing with insurers, the Social Security Administration and other governmental agencies that provide financial assistance to elderly people.

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