Age-proof your house for years to come
HOME is where the heart is for most older people, but if you want to live in your own cherished place for as long as possible, you need to plan ahead — before your children’s quip to, ‘watch out, we’ll be picking your nursing home’ becomes a reality.
With Department of Health figures predicting that one in four Irish people will be over the age of 65 within 20 years, it’s something more and more of us will have to think about as we approach the traditional retirement age.
In the case of yours truly, that’s just seven years away, although like many of my vintage, I consider myself far from old. Like it or not, many of us will continue working long past 65. Most of us have bucket lists of things we want to do, we look forward to continuing lifelong relationships with our families and friends, and anticipate decades yet of rich, fulfilling lives. We’ve got plenty to give, and it’s anathema to think of spending these years living anywhere but in our own homes, surrounded by a lifetime of treasured memories.
My late mother-in-law did precisely that, living independently at home until she was 93. In her final few years she benefited from a home help and care package that brought people into her home to help her with washing, dressing and household chores, and sometimes just to sit and chat with over a cup of tea.
However, those supports didn’t happen overnight. It took time and steely determination by family members working with those angels of our community — public health nurses — to get the care hours she needed.
“There aren’t nearly enough funds or staff to meet demand,” says Audry Deane, Health Policy Officer with Age Action. “Consequently, many older people who would rather stay in their own environment end up in nursing homes. The only way to remedy this is through Sláinte Care, the 10-year plan launched last year by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare.
“For older people it sets out an integrated system with access to healthcare closer to home. It moves away from our current hospital-centric approach and co-ordinates health and social care to meet the needs of older people. We’re already a year behind in its implementation, but we can’t continue living with a hybrid mix of healthcare that’s inefficient, expensive and results in poor outcomes. There is no Plan B.”
However, while we wait for the