Does your home fit your needs?
Our homes are an extension of ourselves, the place where we’re meant to be the most comfortable. That’s why finding a space that fits your needs is essential.
As we age, it’s normal to encounter challenges that make navigating our living spaces difficult. Maybe there’s a flight of stairs that has become difficult to climb. Maybe your bathroom requires accessibility upgrades that are just too expensive. If that’s the case, you may want to consider relocating to a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Unfortunately, even the name ‘nursing home’ brings to mind images of cold, clinical spaces with harsh lighting and little joy beyond the occasional bingo night. Fortunately, that doesn’t need to be the case.
A nursing home is meant to be a home, and you wouldn’t move into a house sight unseen. For the sake of your quality of life, it’s essential to consider what day-to-day life will be in your new home, down to the smallest detail.
Looking at the Layout
When you relocate to a new place, be it a nursing home, assisted living facility, or even a caregiver’s home, it’s essential to ensure it’s a good fit. That means starting with the basics.
First, consider your lifestyle. Ideally, relocating should improve your lifestyle, or at least facilitate the things you enjoy doing. If you love cooking, for instance, you’ll want to choose a home with an adequate kitchen.
However, there are some less obvious things to consider. Do you enjoy having guests over? If so, you’ll probably want adequate space to host them. Do you enjoy gardening? You might want a home with a balcony or terrace.
While an apartment in an assisted living facility will likely be smaller than your old house, it’s still wise to dedicate space to the things you enjoy doing, as well as any decor needed to make your home fit your tastes.
Another, more easily overlooked aspect of this pre-planning process is arguably even more critical: your ability to navigate and utilize the space. An ideal living space for seniors reduces the risk of falls by minimizing slipping and tripping hazards.
This means choosing proper flooring materials, putting in skid-proof mats, and reducing overall clutter. If you need to squeeze between your couch and coffee table just to get through your living room, you probably need to reconsider some things.
Accessibility is also important. Take, for instance, the humble doorknob. While it seems like one of the simplest devices in your home, the act of turning it can be a challenge for people with arthritis or other mobility issues.
Similarly, furniture that sits too close to the ground can be challenging to use and can even increase the risk of falling. If your nursing home comes with furniture pre-installed, as many do, check to make sure it’s suitable for your specific needs and tastes.
Though we often use them interchangeably, assisted living and nursing homes are two different things. Assisted living is for people who, while still socially active and largely independent, need help with their daily activities.
Often, seniors who enroll in assisted living don’t have any specific health issues but desire a low-maintenance lifestyle.
Often, we give up things like yard work or driving long before we need help dressing or bathing, so the ability of an assisted living facility to ramp up their care with time is an excellent fit. Nursing homes, on the other hand, are for people who require regular medical care.
As you may expect, a nursing home focuses more on medical services, like regular check-ups, dentistry, and palliative care. Some even have their own Medicare Advantage plans included with residency.
Assisted Living, on the other hand, is more focused creature comforts, offering things like on-site restaurants. Both types of facilities offer both types of service, but the balance will typically tilt in one direction or the other.
Before choosing a home, consider how it fits into the structure of your life. How will you obtain groceries? Will you need to travel far to go to the doctor? Does this place provide enough mental stimulation to keep you happy and entertained? Does it offer the services you need, or suspect you’ll need in the future?
Ideally, whichever home you choose will be one that adapts with you over time, offering an increased level of care as your needs change.
Some facilities handle this transition seamlessly. Others may require you to transfer to a different wing, or a sister facility to better accommodate you.
In extreme cases, a facility may be unprepared to accommodate you at all. This is sadly common for people with dementia, as many facilities lack the specialized care needed to house people experiencing cognitive decline. Take a moment to future-proof your living arrangement before making a commitment.
No matter what facility you choose, the most important thing is feeling comfortable in your new home. Be as discerning as you would be when house hunting, and don’t be afraid to walk away if your gut feeling is off. Your home should be your sanctuary, no matter how old you are.