The US Census reports that by the year 2030 there will be almost 70 million senior citizens living in the United States. For the first time in history, there will be more seniors living in the US than children. Now, more than ever, considerations for helping support independence among seniors is of utmost importance.
Aging in Place
There has been extended focus lately by the US Government, as well as several notable organizations, to help organize planning strategies and resources for senior living. These resources, often associated under the slogan of “Aging in Place” focus on helping seniors live independently for longer.
The Aging in Place idea focuses on addressing the many needs that may, or may not, arise as American citizens enter the senior years. The core concepts of this approach include medical, lifestyle, and financial planning. For example, proper medication management, meal preparation, and financial handling can all become overwhelming as we age.
The market for products helping seniors to maintain their independence for longer is growing quickly to meet this demand. As new products and services emerge, it’s important to address them with the mindset of their appropriateness, and effectiveness, for loved ones.
That’s to say; how can we be sure to avoid products that are likely ineffective (potentially dangerous) and maximize the benefit of the truly valiant ones? Below are several types of products and services that are well-respected and hold strong potential to help maintain independent living longer.
Meal delivery services have rapidly grown in popularity in recent years. Companies like Freshly offer pre-packaged meals that only need to be heated for a few minutes. These aren’t frozen dinners—Freshly cooks and delivers them! All you need to do is re-heat and enjoy. Other companies, such as HelloFresh offer similar services, though only for raw ingredient delivery. In other words, someone still needs to cook! Each of these types of services can help deal with the daily responsibility of meal preparation.
Mobility becomes an issue for many with age. As bones, joints, and muscles fall from their former glory, navigating one’s own home can become burdensome. Many seniors find themselves struggling to ascend or descend staircases as they once could. Re-locating to single-level housing is an ideal solution—but not always financially possible. In such cases, home elevators can allow full utilization of a home’s space without the daunting task of the stairway. Home elevator companies like Stiltz offer several different solutions to address a wide range of home designs.
Finances can be tough to manage at any age. When one is working, there’s less pressure to manage every penny since paychecks are rolling in. As a senior, however, fixed incomes often get the final say on what can, or can’t, be afforded. Working with financial advisors to develop daily, or monthly, money-management assistance can help seniors maintain their ability to manage their own lives for longer. These services are often billed as Daily Money Management (DMM) or Monthly Money Management (MMM) and offered by a wide range of companies. There’s a great guide by NOLO to help get you started.
Medical Alert Systems
Sudden medical emergencies are often the Boogey Man that convinces many to move into assisted living. The thought of debilitating physical injury, or major health event, and being unable to call for help is scary—really scary. Medical alert systems can help ensure that any such event has the best chance of being reported to someone can help. There are no sure things—make no mistake—but modern technologies have come a long way. General considerations to make for medical alert systems are whether you want a home-based system, a mobile system, and whether you want fall detection. Some work on WiFi, some on Mobile Networks, some over phone lines. Consumer Reports has a great resource to get you started.
Admittedly, anyone stands to benefit from having professional help with their diet. Eating a well-balanced diet can help ensure our bodies have the nutrition needed to thrive. As we age, our nutritional needs shift. There’s absolutely no way to say what changes any individual needs without one-on-one consultation. You can make some basic changes, like eating more fiber, less meat, and keeping one’s carbohydrate:protein balance in check—but the nuances are too individual to even guess. Looking around locally for a licensed nutritionist or dietician is a great first step. For more rural communities, be prepared to drive to the nearest city for an experienced professional. The good news here: once you get a plan in place there’s very little back-and-forth!
Seniors now comprise a larger percentage of our population than ever before. This is, likely, due to advances in medical and nutritional knowledge that have extended the average lifespan to its greatest heights. As these extra years are afforded to us, maintaining independence can become more of a struggle than it once was. Being aware of services and products designed to support independent senior living can help plan ahead and live independently for longer.