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It’s important to maintain healthy habits as you grow older, including exercising, eating healthy, staying hydrated and keeping your brain active.
If you’d like to stay at home as you age rather than move to a facility, consider whether you have an alert system or support system in place to help in case of emergency.
There are many resources available to you as plan to “age in place,” including family, friends, caregivers and community organizations.
As you grow older, you may decide you would rather stay at home than move to a long-term care or senior care facility. For some people, that’s certainly an option — but there are many factors you will need to consider for maintaining your health and wellness. You can take steps that will help you stay at your own home, such as adopting healthy habits and planning for how you can “age in place.”
Build healthy habits as you age
It’s inevitable that you will slow down as you grow older, but you can delay that process. Here are a few of the pillars of healthy aging for older adults:
Even if you are unable to participate in vigorous exercise, it’s important to get moving. Walking and swimming are good low-impact options for nearly everyone, including those who struggle with arthritis. When you keep moving, you are also more likely to recover quickly from injury or surgery.
All your life, you’ve heard health professionals say it’s important to eat right — and this is especially true as you age. Pay attention to your heart health by staying away from processed foods and instead choosing whole foods.
Young children aren’t the only ones who should limit their screen time. Reduce the number of hours you spend looking at a TV, and instead pursue activities such as crossword puzzles, which can give your brain the exercise it needs. You also may want to consider practicing meditation, which can give you the balance you need to handle whatever you encounter.
Water can help you lose weight, keep your skin looking healthy, regulate your blood pressure, give you energy, boost your kidney function and increase your digestive efficiency. Oh, and it can keep you from becoming dehydrated, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends drinking two to three quarts of water per day, but you can also take in water from the foods you eat.
Proactive health care
Even if you don’t have chronic health issues, you should see your primary care provider regularly and stay up to date with your vaccines. Your provider can also help you determine which screenings you need for bone density, different kinds of cancer and hearing and sight.
Aging in place
It’s definitely possible to stay right where you are for years, but you need the right support system and home safety accommodations in place to help maintain your quality of life. First, check out your local area agency on aging for resources that may help.
Here’s a list of factors you will likely need to consider as you age at home:
1. Is your home accessible?
You may have difficulties climbing stairs as you age. If your home only has stairs in a few places, you may want to simply stop going to those parts of your home (such as a basement). Or, you could install a stair chair lift or wheelchair ramps inside and outside your home. In your bathrooms, consider installing grab bars in the tub or shower. If these home modifications sound like they would be too expensive for your budget, there may be community resources that can help you, such as the local Area Agency on Aging, the welfare department or the state housing finance agency.
2. Do you need help with household chores, such as cleaning, grocery shopping or yard work?
Many grocery stores and drug stores allow you to place your order online or over the phone and will then deliver it to your house. You can also hire companies to take care of your yard work or housecleaning. Some housecleaning and other care services will also help you with laundry.
3. Do you have support nearby?
It’s inevitable that you’re going to need people to help you. Whether those “people” are family members, friends, fellow members at your house of worship or other loved ones who are willing to help out when needed, they’re a necessary part of aging in place. Aging in place isn’t possible without support. This is so vital, in fact, that you might consider moving so you can be closer to people who can help you with everyday tasks and provide personal care.
4. Do you have special health care needs?
If you have trouble remembering to take your medications for your health conditions, there are devices and apps that can help remind you. You or someone else could also place all your pills for an entire week in a special pill box marked with the days of the week. If you need additional caregiving or in-home care, Medicare or Medicaid might pay for a home health aide to assist with your daily living needs.
It can seem overwhelming to think about all planning and transitions that need to occur to continue to age well at home. But there are plenty of resources available to you, including:
• People you know who may be able to trade services with you or perform certain tasks
• Local government, community and social services, such as local houses of worship and services like Meals on Wheels
• Geriatric care managers
• Federal government sources
The earlier you start, the easier it will be to age on your own terms in a place that feels comfortable.
Learn more and find a doctor
Swedish’s Center for Healthy Aging, which is part of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, offers comprehensive care for the evaluation, prevention and treatment of cognitive challenges. To learn more or connect with provider, call 206-320-1096.
If you have concerns about your health or it’s time for a check-up, it’s important to see a primary care provider. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options.
Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.