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Elly Van Alten is the Regional Disability Advocate for Classis Alberta North.

Who wants to think about limitations that may come as we grow older? If you want to live your older years to the fullest, then you will want to consider changes that may come and prepare for them.

  1. If you are not using all or most of the room in your present home, consider moving to a smaller place, especially if you are not able to keep it clean yourself.
  2. If you are no longer able to maintain your yard and shovel the snow, a condo would fit the bill well.
  3. If you can’t do stairs anymore and/or use a mobility aid, consider an apartment that has an elevator in the building.
  4. If you can’t cook healthy meals or bathe yourself any more, find accommodations that provide these services.
  5. If you are stuck at home and can’t get out easily to socialize, seniors’ buildings are a good place to meet and visit with new friends.
  6. If you want a say in the kind of medical interventions you want, and more importantly don’t want, write a Personal Directive/Advance Directive identifying your wishes. Name an trusted agent who will make the decisions for you if you are no longer competent to make them for yourself. Give a copy of your Directive to your physician and agent, and bring it along with you whenever going to a hospital. Share the contents of your Directive with all your family members, and enlist their cooperation in supporting your wishes and the agent you have chosen. You might also want to consider designating a family member or trusted friend with Power of Attorney to look after your financial affairs should you not be able to do this for yourself.
  7. Make sure to visit friends who live in a nursing home or assisted living. They will be blessed by your visit; it’s an opportunity for you to assess the atmosphere and care at the home, and it will help you to feel comfortable there. Many people’s quality of life improves significantly after they move into a nursing home, because they are receiving the expert care that they need.
  8. Don’t extract a promise from your family not to place you in a nursing home! You don’t know what the future will bring for you. Don’t leave them with possibly irreparable guilt for placing you when all they want is the very best care for you by trained caregivers.

Some changes that come with aging are unwelcome, but good preparation for them will ease the burden just a little.

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