As your loved ones age, they may prefer to remain in their own home, a concept known as aging in place. This choice allows Older Americans to maintain a sense of independence, stay connected with their community, and enjoy the comfort of a familiar environment. Aging in place can present certain challenges, however, requiring adjustments to ensure the home remains a safe, comfortable, and supportive space. 

Proactive planning, both in terms of legal and practical arrangements, is essential to address the evolving needs of aging individuals. Let us share with you seven key strategies that can help you and your aging loved ones continue to live safely with dignity and security this National Elder Law Month, and throughout the year. These steps can not only enhance all aspects of daily living but also provide peace of mind for all involved.

  1. Update the estate plan. Ensure that the estate plans of  your loved ones are current and reflect their latest wishes. This includes having a valid will, updating beneficiaries, and ensuring all aspects of their estate are covered. This legal groundwork that you can complete with their experienced estate planning attorney not only secures their legacy but also simplifies the management of their affairs should they become unable to do so themselves.

 

  1. Ensure the Durable Power of Attorney is current. As a part of the estate plan, having a durable power of attorney allows a trusted individual to make important decisions on behalf of your aging loved ones if they become incapacitated. This important legal planning tool can cover financial decisions and more ensuring that their wishes are respected even when they can no longer express them.

 

  1. Implement comprehensive medication management. Proper medication management is crucial for your aging loved ones, especially if they wish to live independently. Set up a system that ensures they take the right medications at the right times, possibly using pill organizers or digital reminders. Consider a consultation with their doctor or a pharmacist to review and optimize their medication regimen for safety and effectiveness.

 

  1. Audit the home for safety. Conduct a thorough safety check of the home of your loved ones. Look for potential hazards, such as loose rugs, poor lighting, and high thresholds, that could increase the risk of falls. Consider installing safety features such as grab bars in the bathroom, a medical alert system, and non-slip flooring.

 

  1. Foster social connections. Social isolation can be a significant problem for Older Americans living independently. Help your aging loved ones maintain an active social life by facilitating visits, encouraging participation in community activities, or by using technology to keep them connected with family and friends.

 

  1. Adapt the home to enhance accessibility. Make necessary home modifications to accommodate the changing mobility needs of your aging loved ones. This can include ramps for wheelchair access, stairlifts, or a bedroom on the first floor to minimize the need to climb stairs.

 

  1. Regular health and wellness checks. Schedule regular visits with healthcare providers to monitor the health of your loved ones. Additionally, encourage them to engage in physical activity suited to their ability level and to follow a balanced diet to promote overall wellness.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers.  Helping your loved ones age in place can significantly enhance their quality of life and provide peace of mind to the entire family. By taking these steps, you can ensure that they continue to live safely and happily in their own home for as long as possible.

 As an estate planning and elder law firm, we urge our clients to take advantage of these tools and resources, ensuring comprehensive financial health and security. We want to help you protect your aging relatives. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.