How to Avoid Going to a Nursing Home

Most seniors are reluctant to move, and it’s easy to understand why. Even compared to the most luxurious retirement communities, there is no substitute for the comfort and memories of one’s own home. So how do you avoid going to a nursing home?

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make life more manageable for yourself while being able to live out your golden years in the place you’ve always called home. Read ahead to learn more.

Safeguard the Home

To help keep kids and caregivers from worrying unnecessarily, it’s important to meet them part way and make sure that the house is free of everyday hazards. Many seniors end up in a nursing home as the result of a fall, and according to Pamela D. Wilson, a caregiving expert, “many older adults who fall do not return to their prior level of physical strength.”

Therefore, your best course of action is to prevent falls and other similar hazards. Here are a few ways to update your home to prevent such mishaps:

  • Install kitchen shelves that are easy to reach and don’t require excessive stretching or the use of a stepstool.
  • Make use of non-slip floor mats.
  • Move the primary bedroom to the ground floor, to decrease the use of stairs.
  • Install a seated escalator in case using the stairs are necessary.
  • Install handrails near toilets and in the bathtub to prevent slips.
  • Encourage your loved one to use a walker to get around the house.

Consider Home Care Services

If a senior needs help with basic tasks — like preparing meals, housekeeping/cleaning services, mobility or personal hygiene — consider hiring specialized home care services. There are countless options when it comes to at-home aid, and they don’t cost a fortune.

In-home caregivers often have nursing credentials, which means they are able to assist with healthcare needs, like administering drugs. Other caregivers simply provide assistance with everyday tasks that have become challenging for the client. Some caregivers provide 24-hour assistance, while others may just come by one or two hours a week. It really depends on your needs and preferences.

Best of all, an at-home caregiver can provide much-needed company for the client, which is a major concern among many of America’s elderly and their family. Humans are social creatures, after all, and loneliness can present as much a threat to a senior’s mental health as a slip in the bathtub might pose to their physical health. Finding a caregiver who is patient, kind, and attentive can make a huge impact on their emotional wellbeing.

Get Physical

Whether you have perfect mobility or struggle to walk from one room to the next, it is always beneficial to get some form of exercise. This is a key area that families worry about, and even a daily walk around the block will keep muscles moving and lift your mood through the release of endorphins.

It may be worth it to hire a personal trainer who specializes in the elderly. With one or two weekly training sessions, a senior can practice stretching and balance, aerobic exercise, and some gentle weightlifting. All of this will keep the body moving, blood pumping, and mind alert. Some trainers will even offer virtual lessons over video-chat if you are concerned about a stranger coming inside the house.

Worried about the cost? Many senior centers offer group classes and dances that not only get you moving but let you meet others in your age group.

Meal Delivery

Photo: Shutterstock

If cooking has become too much of a hassle, consider one of the numerous meal-delivery services available these days. Many such services specialize in elderly customers, and deliver hot, ready-to-eat meals directly to the doorstep. Services like Freshly, Magic Kitchen, and Mom’s Meals cater to a variety of dietary restrictions and can keep your health in mind when creating their delicious, nutritious dishes.

Alternatively, if you still enjoy cooking but hate cooking for one, you may be interested in grocery delivery services like Instacart, which allows you to choose items from a local supermarket and have them hand-picked and delivered.

Find a Purpose

The perennial quest is not exclusive to young people. Having a purpose gives humans of any age a reason to get up in the morning and something to look forward to throughout the day. While there is no perfect formula for finding a purpose, here are just a few examples of ways to fill your time:

  • Research family history through the help of Ancestory.com or by exploring family archives.
  • Learn to paint, draw, or engage in some other artistic pursuit by taking a local class, or by signing up for an online program like SkillShare.
  • Join a book club, a bridge club, a current events discussion group or a local political action group. These activities will keep the mind sharp while maintaining a social life.
  • Volunteer for a cause that is important.
  • VolunteerMatch.org is a great place to start the search for local opportunities.

Let Them Visit

Perhaps most important of all, if you are really committed to staying out of a nursing home, you need to show them you’re okay. If you live in separate cities, that means making frequent phone calls or video-chatting, and if you are local, encouraging them to pop in from time to time. That will have to side effect of demonstrating how much you care about them. Feeling the love will definitely give everyone a reason to get up in the morning, and it will fill your days with a sense of comfort and joy.

Sources: Pamela D Wilson, FindReviews, Paying for Senior Care, Genworth, A Paradise for Parents