Aging in place is the ability to live in your home or community of choice as long as you can with the services and support you need over time. Older adults and their family members should plan for aging in place in advance, preferably prior to retirement. The plan should include information about them such as their support system or who they should call for certain needs, their likes and dislikes, information about their home, finances and services. This plan should be updated over time as situations change.
For older adults, this advanced planning allows them to make choices, remain in control and independent. It also helps them avoid feeling like they are a burden to their family because they are able to make the needed changes they believe will be necessary without involving family. For example, hire an occupational therapist to conduct a home assessment to determine what changes are or will be needed to make the home safer during the normal aging process.
Educate yourself about community-based services in your community. Create a plan based on levels of need:
- Level One: In level one the older adult may need assistance with some very basic household management issues. At this level, the individual does not have any safety concerns and do not need assistance with personal care. So you want to research agencies or individuals that assist with light housekeeping or transporting people to pay bills, purchase groceries or volunteer.
- Level Two: This individual may need everything above and meal preparation along with one or more activities of living such as bathing, dressing and ambulation. The individual will need a paraprofessional such as a Nurse Aide or Personal Care Attendant who are normally employed by Personal Care Agencies.
- Level Three: This individual may need more help than levels one and two, such as assistance with managing their chronic illness or multiple illnesses, as well as medication management. More than likely, these individuals have been in the hospital due to their chronic illness, and they have regular follow-up visits with their primary care physician and or medical specialist. They also may need rehabilitation therapies. At this level, the individual and caregiver need to decide between managing all these things in the home setting versus a center such as PACE.
PACE provides all-inclusive services for aging in place such as health care, behavioral health, rehabilitation, adult day health, transportation, personal care, medications, supplies and equipment. It is specially designed for older adults dealing with chronic illnesses and their caregivers. The beauty of PACE is that many of the services are provided during the day, then the individual returns home to their familiar surroundings. PACE of the Triad is a not-for-profit agency formed by Advanced Home Care, Cone Health, Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro and Well-Spring Services, and is available for older adults in the community.
Ursula Robinson serves as Executive Director for PACE of the Triad, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly. Prior to PACE, she was employed with Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro in various leadership positions. As a licensed clinical social worker, she has also worked in nursing homes, home health agencies and social services. Robinson received her undergraduate degree in social work from UNC-Greensboro. She earned a master’s degree in Health Care Administration and a master’s in Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill.