September 23rd, 2019

To Your Health: Make the decision before the decision gets made for you

By GILLIAN SLADE on September 9, 2019.

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Some seniors have found that selling their home and moving to a seniors residence has given them a new lease on life. They have fewer worries and more time for leisure pursuits like hobbies and travel.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

There is a lot to be said for making a decision about where you will live in your golden years before the decision is made for you.

For a long time the trend has been to stay in your own home for as long as you possibly can with supports such as home care and meal delivery.

There are some seniors groups that are now questioning that philosophy and asking about the quality of life for those seniors in their own home’s.

It is a good question. If you have limited mobility and depend entirely on someone helping you get up in the morning and another to help you back to bed in the late afternoon your quality of life may be very isolating. Compare that to a seniors residence where activities are scheduled and a social circle is right outside the resident’s door.

Many seniors use the fact that they are still living in their own home as a badge of honour. It is wonderful if the senior is managing reasonably well and is still interacting socially with others. Very little social interaction leads to mental decline.

The other aspect to consider is whether the senior’s is in a position to recognize when the plan to stay at home is really not working anymore.

Here I speak from personal experience. My late mother-in-law (not in Canada) wanted to stay in her own home as long as she possibly could. We talked about what would happen if she developed cognitive decline or a physical ailment that reduced her mobility. She had made provision to pay for help and even agreed to have someone live in her house with her if that became necessary. The problem was when it was time for that to happen, her cognitive decline meant she was not thinking clearly enough to be reasoned with. We spent more than a year trying to make changes and had professionals try to reason with her but nothing worked. In the end she simply refused to allow anyone other than family into her home.

It was a fall in her kitchen, resulting in a broken hip that required surgery, that was the catalyst. Decisions were no longer in her hands.

The University of East Anglia in the U.K. did a study with people more than 95 years old and found at that stage decisions were manly out of their hands. Researchers noted most were no long capable of making decisions on their own due to cognitive decline. At the same time some were very resentful that others had made decisions on their behalf.

Making a move to independent living in a seniors residence much earlier in life could be a good move.

I have spoken to seniors who felt that selling their home and moving to a seniors residence, where perhaps they have their main meal of the day in a dining room, was a new lease on life for them. Many of the responsibilities that come with owning a home were gone, worries about the future were reduced, their social circle increased and they spent more time enjoying travel or enjoying new hobbies than they had previously thought possible.

The other benefit of this is that you are in control. You give away or sell items when downsizing and because it is your choice there is no resentment.

I have left you with a lot to think about here. The key is that you get to think about it rather than others making the choices for you.

Here’s to choosing what is best for you and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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