By Tony Plummer, MS
As a young man getting ready to be married, one of the most important things to figure out was where we would live. My fiancé and I looked at apartments and settled on a great little condo that was a perfect starter home. One kid came along, and we quickly outgrew the condo. It was a big milestone when we bought our first house with a fenced back yard. We moved in, and soon another child joined us. It was a few years later that we moved into a larger house with room for rowdy kids and parties and friends and the busyness of young adult life with kids. Many wonderful years flew by as we busily went about our lives with growing kids, challenging times and all. But one thing remained constant…we were in a house we loved that had become our home.
Not so long ago, the last of the kids was off to college and the larger house that once echoed the young voices of a flurry of kids was now silent. The silence could be deafening. Too much house. Too much empty space. So, time to downsize it was. Back to a smaller home that is just right for current needs.
With the changing seasons of life so rapidly coming and going, it occurred to me that one of these times (that will no doubt arrive much sooner than I can imagine as I sit here today, surrounded by the current set of challenges and life circumstances we all face) I’ll need to decide where to live for my latter golden years. You know, those years when joints don’t work so well, memory becomes ever more undependable, and the effort of normal, routine tasks is too much to keep up with. What then? Move to a nursing home? An assisted living facility? An active adult community? Stay in this new, smaller house that I have come to call home?
As I ponder these possibilities, I am keenly aware that house and home are not that distinguishable, one from the other. The wooden or brick structure I call home really has a lot to do with how I feel about my life and the purpose of living. I hear so many older adults say something along the lines of, “I’m not leaving my home except for feet first!” Undoubtedly, their somewhat inartful expression makes it clear of their wishes. They wish to remain at the house they have grown to love and in which so many memories have been made.
These days of an aging population and the huge baby boomer generation, one thing is clear: There are more options for older adults than ever before. Small, independent cottages on a campus of a senior living community. High-end active adult communities that feel like a world-class resort in Aspen. Traditional assisted living communities, and even the “old folks homes” of years past (I didn’t make it up and don’t use that terminology! But I still hear people use that term.).
Another option that for most of human history has been the only option considered is aging in place with the support of family and friends. Interestingly, it was mostly in the past century or so that families started placing their loved ones in senior living communities. Quickly, it became an unstated rule that there would come a time that we’d move dad into a nursing home when he became “too much” to handle. How many times have I (and probably you) heard a family discuss in hushed tones, “It’s time.” Before that, people really did stay at home and didn’t leave except for “feet first.” As with most things in life, old traditions often come back into vogue. Now there are countless options for helping families care for their loved ones at home. Aging Life Care Managers, traveling doctors (yep, that’s coming back, too!), elder law attorneys who make in-home visits, and of course caregivers and nurses who provide respite care all the way up to 24/7 in-home care for those whose great desire is to stay in the home they love until they pass on from this life. There are even a number of construction companies that specialize in retrofitting a home to make it safe and comfortable for those with limited mobility. In this modern era of an aging population, there are all the options anyone could want on how and where to spend their golden years.
The best option for anyone can be vastly different from the person next door. I’m not sure where I see myself when the time comes, but it will be important for somewhere that feels like “home.”
In the meantime, I love the opportunity my job presents to help people stay in any wood or brick (or any other material, of course!) structure that they call home. One of the best aspects of senior in-home care is we provide companions, personal care aides, LPNS, and RNs who go to wherever “home” is to the older adult so that they can age in the place they love. We help many older adults who live in their long-time house, but also many who have found a new, happy home in an older adult living community. For it really is true that home is where the heart is, and healing and well-being is at its best when the heart is home.
As always, if we can assist with pointing you in the right direction, please contact us anytime. We’ve been in this business for over 25 years and know a few things about the options older adults have available to them. We have worked with many of the senior living communities in Georgia and Alabama and are happy to share our knowledge with you…no strings attached.
We wish you good health and trust you can live in a place you love and call “home.”
Active Adult Living ~ Independent Living ~ Assisted Living ~ Memory Care ~ Nursing Home ~ Aging in Place with Home Care