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Most people stress about where they will live after retirement; how will they live; who will look after them when they can’t look after themselves anymore; and will they be financially independent. These aspects of retirement are crucial to everyone’s peace of mind. But they need not be quite such a problem if you ensure early planning for yours, or your loves one’s, old age.

Aging obviously isn’t easy. What with health problems that seem to become more chronic with time. They creep up on you, or your much-loved elders without you or they realizing it. An increasing number of incidents that affect a beloved senior will slowly make you more aware that your senior relatives will eventually need people to take care of them, or at least require medical facilities at hand. Regardless of what they need, how will you find it? Can someone help you to get more information to base your decisions on? Whom can you approach?

Whether you are trying to plan for your retirement years, or whether you are doing this for a parent, there are certain hard choices to be made. You need to start doing your research on the various healthcare options available to you, or your loved ones, for the retirement years.

Home healthcare

A wide range of healthcare services can be made available at your place of residence, including nursing and medical aid, in the event of an unexpected injury, surgery or illness. If your parents insist on staying at home during an illness, you just may have to opt for home healthcare. Popularly referred to as Home Care, it is normally less expensive and more convenient than any care you can get in a hospital or nursing home. 

Long term care: Elders who suffer from progressive or prolonged conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke and other such debilitating illnesses, benefit the most from long term care. Ranging from the simple to the most complex, this can include help with feeding, bathing, moving around, skilled medical care 24/7, a doctor on call, and so much more.

Short term care: This is suitable when an elderly person is recovering from surgery, injury or an illness. You can consider home healthcare, a nursing home or consulting medical professionals as temporary solutions. If help is needed with daily activities, an attendant caregiver can make home visits.

The importance of designing for elders

With age come constraints and restrictions that inhibit the carrying out of daily tasks and freedom of movement. These limitations should be considered when designing and building living spaces which the elderly will inhabit. Certain basic factors need to be taken care of including:

  • Ramps to facilitate moving wheel-chairs into lifts
  • Spacious lifts to accommodate one person in a wheel-chair and at least one attendant
  • Arranging furniture so as to allow people, in wheel-chairs and with walkers, to move around unimpeded
  • Wide doors, at entrances and between rooms, for wheelchairs to pass through easily
  • Grab rails, in bathrooms and along steps and ramps
  • Anti-skid flooring to avoid slippages
  • Level spaces for the entire living area, to ensure ease of movement
  • Ramps, rather than steps, at the entrance to buildings
  • Bath seats and raised toilet seats to minimize bending and abrupt movement
  • Safety devices, such as gas detectors and water-level alerts
  • Extra lighting to help failing eye sight

It’s not just all about buildings, either. Older people, just like the rest of us, have strong views about where they want to live. It is not just the homes themselves that are important to maintaining their independence: a local environment, with accessible shops and services, is vital too.

In India, as elsewhere, older people come from diverse social, economic, ethnic and religious backgrounds… with different ideas about what makes a home. But all of them want safety, care, comfort and a feeling of fitting in, so that they really do feel at home - where the fabric of life is familiar and where respect for their special needs is a given.

BY THIYAGARAJAN VELAYUTHAM, FOUNDER, IHHC | 18TH JANUARY, 2019

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