It’s a simple saying and nothing could be closer to the truth but home really is where the heart is. For many seniors, especially those starting to feel the effects of aging and wondering whether to move from where their heart is, leaving home doesn’t always have to be the only option.
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Bandana Shrestha, Community Engagement Director for AARP Oregon, said some people who are thinking of moving to some type of facility and older-only settings (to assisted living centers) but most really want to stay at home. We should look at the big picture first and think outside the box to see whether or not it makes sense.
There are many factors involved from how age friendly a neighborhood or community is to the design of one’s home. Shrestha said when it comes to home modification or constructing a new home, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Are wheelchair ramps in place? How about door levers rather than handles? Levers are much easier for someone with arthritis.
It may be the butt of many jokes, but the “Clapper” which turns on and off lights at the sound of a clap is actually an assistive device that can help the elderly. And until you’re on crutches or in a wheelchair, living in a home with stairs or narrow pathways won’t be much of a bother.
When it comes to the community, like Portland which was the first city in the United States to be designated an age-friendly city by the World Health Organization, people should look at whether there are adequate walking trails, bike paths and even public transportation that is reliable and safe. Seniors need to get up and around and be social to have a quality life. If personal driving is no longer an option then getting to and from places, safely and comfortably are factors to be looked into.
Shrestha said for the most part seniors living in Oregon can be kept out of skilled nursing homes, those that provide 24 hour care. Oregon is the first state to research and implement efforts under Medicaid to create a series of program to keep people at home or in home-like settings (assisted living). The state has also been noted for its various programs supporting caregiving families; however state budget cuts are taxing those available resources.
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