The Ultimate Guide to Independent Living at Home for Seniors
As we get older, we all begin to think about how we’ll live when things become a little more difficult to manage at home. While some seniors choose to move into an aged care facility or nursing home, others prefer to remain in their own homes. And for many, it is absolutely achievable.
Independent living at home means having the freedom and autonomy to live comfortably and securely in your own home during your golden years. It’s all about maintaining a sense of independence while ensuring the necessary support is in place for tasks that may become challenging over time.
In this guide, we’ll answer your questions about living independently and help you prepare to remain living at home and independently, for as long as possible.
Why Independent Living at Home is Beneficial
There are many benefits to living at home and independently, beyond just a personal preference or fear of moving into an aged care home or nursing facility. These benefits can be:
Independent living often means maintaining a sense of familiarity and comfort, as you are surrounded by cherished memories and possessions. This familiarity can provide emotional stability and peace of mind, which can also result in improved mental health. It can also be more cost-effective than moving into an aged care facility. Your financial outlay can be significantly lower if you can manage daily tasks on your own, or with the support of a loved one or professional caregiver (particularly if you can benefit from a Home Care Package).
As far as your health goes, the ability to follow your own routines, enjoy your preferences for food, and maintain your privacy and independence, can mean you will enjoy a better quality of life. And let’s not forget the social aspect. Living independently at home means being able to maintain your social connections, friendships, and connection to your community.
How to Prepare Your Home for Independent Living
Making the decision to remain living in your own home as you get older means preparing your home and potentially making some changes to it. These can include:
- Assessing your home for safety and accessibility: It’s important to evaluate your home to identify potential safety risks or accessibility issues. Consider factors like lighting, bathroom safety, and the layout of furniture. A care provider like Care For Family can help you with assessing the safety of your home. If you have an aged care plan through My Aged Care, you can also receive support with assessing your home from them.
- Home modifications to improve safety and accessibility: Safety modifications for seniors or people with disabilities may include installing grab bars and ramps, removing tripping hazards, or adding non-slip tape in bathrooms. Accessibility improvements could be as simple as moving frequently used items to lower shelves, or more extensive, like installing a stairlift. A care provider like Care For Family can help you with determining what changes, if any, need to be made to your home.
- Assistive technology and equipment for independent living: Modern technology offers a wide range of tools to support independent living. Devices like smartphones, medical alert systems, and voice-activated assistants can help you to maintain your safety.
Managing Health and Well-being at Home
One of the major reasons people decide to move into an aged care home or assisted living facility like a nursing home is that they worry about their health and well-being, including being concerned about having a fall, not being able to manage (or remember) medication, and not having someone around if you need help. Thankfully, there are a range of things you can do to make your home safer and more suitable for you, as you get older.
- Staying active and engaged in daily life: Physical activity is vital for our overall health, especially as we get older. Seniors should aim for a blend of exercises that enhance strength, balance, and flexibility. Mental stimulation is also crucial, with activities like reading, puzzles, or hobbies being particularly helpful.
- Nutrition and meal planning for seniors: A balanced diet can help you to manage chronic conditions and boost your overall health. If this is a bit tricky for you, you might benefit from meal planning or delivery services to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. Online shopping and delivery services from your grocery stores can also be an easier alternative than driving to the store and carrying your groceries inside by yourself.
- Managing medications and medical appointments: Staying on top of medication schedules and doctor's appointments is, of course, crucial. Consider using medication organisers or reminders, and make use of telehealth services where possible. The care team from Care For Family can also help with this, and ensure that you never miss a medicine or a medical appointment.
Staying Connected with Family and Community
Maintaining strong connections with family and friends, getting involved in community activities and organisations, and accessing support services and resources are all key strategies for seniors aiming for independent living. Staying socially engaged, whether through regular in-person, phone, or video call interactions with loved ones, can help with maintaining quality of life and fending off loneliness and depression – common issues faced by seniors.
Equally important is active involvement in community life through things like local clubs, religious groups, or volunteer organisations, which each provide meaningful ways to stay connected. Care For Family’s care services include transportation, which can help you get to and from social and community engagements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I pay for independent living at home?
There are various options available for funding your independent living at home, including Home Care Packages. For more information about financial assistance with living at home independently, read our guide to Home Care Packages here.
How do I know if I am ready for independent living at home?
Being ready for independent living at home often hinges on your ability to manage daily tasks and your health and well-being at home. If you're finding certain tasks challenging, consider getting an in-home assessment to determine what kind of support you might need. Care For Family can help with organising this, and putting in place the level of care you need to remain safely at home.
What if I need additional assistance with daily activities?
If you require extra help with certain tasks, in-home care services are available. At Care For Family, our services offer a wide range of support, from help with personal care to assistance with housekeeping, transport, meal preparation, and more.
How can I stay safe at home as I age?
Staying safe involves keeping your home environment hazard-free, staying active to maintain strength and balance, and having a system in place to get help if needed, such as a medical alert system. Having a care team to support you can also ensure you’re always safe, no matter how much or how little care you require. Get in touch with Care For Family to find out how we can help you.
How do I find reliable in-home care services?
At Care For Family, we have decades of experience in helping senior Australians live independently at home. Our team are all trained, qualified, and police-checked to ensure their suitability for caring for our clients. Get in touch today to find out more about how Care For Family can help you to live at home independently.
How do I talk to my family about my decision to live independently at home?
Open communication is key. You should discuss your desires and plans for independent living, and be open to the concerns and suggestions of your loved ones. Remember, this decision affects them too, and they'll want to know you'll be safe and well cared for.
Independent living at home is an achievable goal with many benefits for older Australians. By assessing your needs, making necessary home modifications, managing your health and well-being, and leveraging the available resources, you can enjoy a fulfilling life, safely, in your own home. Remember, there's no place like home, and with the right strategies in place, you can enjoy your golden years just the way you want.