Working with hundreds of elders and families over the years, we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. And, while we advise on the best ways to plan for and manage the challenges of aging, we have also learned a lot about the worst ways to handle things. So, here’s our slightly tongue-in-cheek list of things you can do if you want to age “unwisely” (and what to do instead).
1. Don’t think about it. What can you do about it anyway?!? Unfortunately, this is common, as many of us tend to be in denial about getting older and needing help. Our healthcare system has traditionally been set up to be about illness rather than health and prevention. More people are taking steps to be proactive with their health, but too few people invest the time in planning for their elder years. Fortunately, with a little planning, you can have some control over what happens as you get older. No, you can’t control aging, but you can control a lot about your level of dignity and comfort as you age.
2. Avoid the tough discussions. Death and money are probably the two most taboo subjects in our culture, which explains why so few people talk about them, even with their closest friends and family. Unfortunately, in order to age wisely, you have to break through that barrier and have some basic discussions about these topics. Engage the help of a professional if you need it (a geriatric care manager can help guide the conversation and you can do a family meeting with your financial advisor and estate planning attorney–experienced parties know sensitive ways to handle the conversations and can serve as a buffer for the emotions of those so close to the situation).
3. Follow thy neighbor. Neighbors (both physical neighbors and our “neighbors” in our online community) have all sorts of advice. Unfortunately, well-meaning advice isn’t always right. And, it’s especially not always right for you. Check your facts, especially when you get opinions from the internet. It is great to get ideas from neighbors and trusted friends, but make sure to get more information (and possibly professional advice) before making major decisions.
4. Go it alone. People constantly refer to wanting to “stay independent” and remain in their own homes as they age. We offer a different perspective on aging “interdependently”, in order to maintain your options and stay healthy and happy despite perhaps needing a bit of help in a few areas. Isolation and unnecessary decline are often the costs of stubbornly maintaining absolute independence. When you really want to stay in your own home and maintain some control, a little in-home help is likely the best way to make that happen.
5. Leave it all up to the family. Yes, of course, eldercare is a deeply personal thing and families handle over 80% of the care needed by older loved ones. However, families don’t need to handle everything alone. Having professional advice and occasional help can make a huge difference. One of the most frequent comments we get at Aging Wisely is, “You allowed me to go back to being daughter/son/wife/husband again.” Our EasyLiving caregivers are often handling tasks such as personal care (bathing, shaving, helping in the bathroom) and household duties, which allow adult children and parents to retain a balanced relationship and spend quality time together.
For help with “aging wisely” and “easy living” in your elder years, contact our team today at 727-447-5845 or complete our request form for a free eldercare consultation!