Planning for Care
Aging Proactively
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By Hilary Young

There are many misconceptions about aging that we here at CaregiversDirect aim to shed some light on. One of our favorites: people think that aging always comes along with debilitating health problems, but that’s simply not true. Aging can, however, slow you down, and with good reason. The body naturally changes with age--such as the stiffening of arteries and blood vessels, the weakening of bone density, and the loss of muscle--and sometimes, despite diet and exercise, medical emergencies happen. 

The best decisions are rarely made during a crisis, when time is of the essence and research cannot be as thorough. Ideally, planning for a crisis should happen before an emergency occurs so that you can be confident in the fact that you are making the right choices.  

Considerations For Aging Proactively At Home 

When it comes to aging in place, here are a few things to consider in order to be proactive about your health and wellness: 

  • Eat Well and Exercise. Many health experts recommend eating a diet that is rich in nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats to protect against developing chronic health issues like diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. But eating well is only one part of the equation; exercise and sun protection are also ways to remain proactive about aging. A regular exercise routine can not only help you to lose weight, but it can also improve your cardiovascular function, improve your flexibility, and build up muscle that naturally degrades with age.  
  • Put Advanced Directives Together. Keeping paperwork up-to-date is another way to age proactively. Advanced directives, also known as a living will, serve as medical directions should you be unable to make decisions for yourself. Assigning a medical power of attorney, or a healthcare proxy, legally authorizes someone of your choosing to make medical decisions on your behalf. Thinking about these things might be uncomfortable, but it’s important to talk about your wishes with your family so that they can be prepared to properly care for you in an emergency.  
  • Make A Family Plan. There are questions that have to be answered before a crisis occurs, such as: Do you want to receive care at home? Would you prefer to move to assisted living? If your spouse or child is caring for you, are they able to make the necessary time commitment? Are they comfortable with attending to personal care for you, or are you open to hiring in-home care? Having this discussion with loved ones before a caregiving need arises will ensure that everyone will be on the same page should the time come when you require extra care at home. 
  • Mitigate Risk. Aging can put you at greater risk of experiencing falls or accidents around the home. Some environmental factors can increase your fall risk at home, such as low lighting around the home, buckled rugs or carpeting, clutter left on the floor, and slippery bathrooms. There’s no need to totally renovate your home, but there are modifications you can choose to make in order to keep your loved one safer with age.  

In addition to the above list, loneliness is actually one of the biggest risks to your health as you age. Research has shown that loneliness can have a negative impact on mortality, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and lead to higher instances of depression. Loneliness is becoming a bit of an epidemic in older age; a recent survey from AARP found that nearly one third of Americans over the age of 50 feel lonely. 

Many have lost spouses, friends, and even children by the time they reach retirement age, leaving them alone in an empty home. The best way to prevent loneliness and isolation for an older parent living at home is to invest in companion care. 

The Benefits of Companion Care 

Companion care is perhaps the caregiving industry’s best kept secret. Many people think that receiving care at home is only for the immobile or the very ill, but the reality of companion care is that it can provide a valuable service to those who are still in good health.  

Companion care is just that--a companion to share your time with. A caregiver who provides companionship can prepare meals, run errands (for you or with you), do light housework, accompany you to doctor’s appointments, and even do the crossword with you. It is especially helpful for older adults who live alone, as it provides someone to talk to regularly and helps to combat the negative health effects of loneliness. 

And companion care doesn’t only benefit seniors, it also benefits family caregivers as well. Hiring someone to help manage day-to-day needs can take the pressure off of family caregivers, reducing stress and combating caregiver burnout. Companion care can also provide family caregivers with peace of mind in knowing that their loved one’s needs are met and they are safe at home. 

Hiring A Caregiver for Companion Care 

CaregiversDirect specializes in matching our clients with all different types of caregivers in order to best fit their care needs, including companion care services. Our skilled Senior Care Specialists spend time getting to know you and your family in order to make the best caregiver match for both skill and personality. Receiving care at home shouldn’t be a stressful part of aging, but instead serve as a means for aging proactively. 

If you’d like to learn more about companion care, call one of our skilled Senior Care Specialists at 1-800-370-3377