You paid off your mortgage 20 years ago, the children are all grown and moved away, you’re still in your family home in Clairemont and you need a little bit of help. So, what’s next? An assisted living home in the South Bay, up in North County or perhaps a splurge on a place in La Jolla?
Well, all I know is that’s not what most people want. For that matter, in both the UK and here in America the majority of people in retirement do not want to move from their family home into a retirement community. They want to ‘Age in Place’.
In a 2014 AARP article called “What Is Livable? Community Preferences of Older Adults” their survey found “A clear majority of people ages 50 and older say they want to age in place. Adults ages 65 and older (compared with those ages 50 to 64) are more likely to say they want to age in their current home and community (87 percent v. 71 percent).
Yes, that may be what they want, but how do they do it?
First of all, you really need to take stock and have a realistic look at your own personal situation. There are definitely some obstacles to staying at home, but surprisingly many of them can be handled with just a little help.
I will start out with the obvious here as I am sure you all know that there are community and private resources for:
· Transportation – http://www.factsd.org
· Meals – www.meals-on-wheels.org
· Foodstuffs – Vons home delivery www.shop.safeway.com
· Home repairs – JFS Fix-It Program www.jfs.com (No, you do not need to be Jewish!)
Ok, so I can get to places, eat from my own pantry and get that squeaky door fixed. But what about some help for me personally like bathing, dressing, and other other more personal issues? And what about things like laundry, cleaning and other household chores?
For this sort of help unfortunately our health and social services in the USA do not provide a great deal of help. There are programs like IHHS and the VA ‘pension’ or Aid and Attendance Allowance but what if I’m not eligible?
That’s where a home care agency comes in, companies like ComForcare have trained caregivers who are fully background checked, drug tested, insured and sympathetic to your needs. The way these agencies work is they meet with you, any friends or family involved, and make a free of charge assessment to see how they can help.
Typically, for people just starting out with home care, they will have 1-2 days per week of say 4 hours per day for a cost of around $300-700 per month at $20 per hour. They then make the most of the caregiver’s time by putting off tasks until the caregiver arrives and has them do it… now that’s what I call a ‘division of labor’!
So, as an example, say you have a caregiver in the morning, you could have them:
– Tidy up after breakfast and make some meals for later
– Help get you ready and in their car (or yours) and escort you to a doctor’s visit
– Pop into a grocery store for some of those heavier items on your way home
– Get you set up for the afternoon in your favorite chair
Comparing this to say a taxi service, depending on where you’re going, the cost could be a great deal more, but more importantly, they are not going to escort you anywhere except maybe to an ATM.
And as for a cleaning service (better go back to that ATM), all they want to do is ‘clean’, they’re not going to tidy or put away anything, and they’re certainly not going to do your laundry.
Of course, all these concerns would disappear if you were to live in an assisted living community, but it would be at a significant cost and loss of personal freedom. But more importantly, and this is what I find most concerning, these communities are increasingly getting ‘pickier’ about the residents they have.
Do you need puree or a special diet, are you showing memory loss issues, or are there significant mobility issues? Depending on which assisted living community, the chances are very good they could reject you, or worse, eject you once you’re living there!
‘Aging in Place’ may be a new buzzword, but it makes a lot of sense with the right help from friends, family and reputable professionals.
Other useful resources
Live Well Clairemont www.livewellsandiego.org
Age in Place www.ageinplace.org
Elder Law www.estate-elderlaw.com
Glenner Memory Centers www.glenner.org
St Pauls www.stpaulseniors.org
Scott Smith is the Managing Director of Comforcare La Jolla/San Diego, a home care agency which has been serving the Clairemont area for over 10 years. Their company is known for their professionalism, 24/7 support and widespread community involvement to provide an affordable service for those in need. Scott can be reached at 858.900.5257 and is always glad to see if they can help or refer to other community services.