When moving through the various stages of life, do you ever stop to consider what it takes to down size to the point that you are ready to Age in Place. Aging in Place suggests that at some point you will need to also prepare your residence for a live-in caregiver.
Peter Sosnkowski lives in Victoria, and is someone we currently provide companionship for. Peter was very gracious in allowing the writer to interview him for this article. Peter is likely one of the most prepared individuals we have worked with, with regards to planning his home for future possible live-in care.
Peter was asked what criteria he had for choosing his residence in Victoria. He states “Being at home” is more a psychological state of mind that a physical address. I chose Victoria because it’s smaller than Vancouver, and what I really wanted was access to restaurants and services easily accessed by walking or a short drive. Plus, my children live on the west coast of North America, and visits can easily be accommodated”. When asked about the actual move, Peter stated “Moving and downsizing to this extent is one of life’s traumatic experiences, with a repository of treasures including fine art, furniture and memorabilia from many years of travel, downsizing from 6000 square feet to 1100 square feet was a great challenge.” Peter states that in choosing his condo, he also carefully considered “dignified and adequate quarters” for a future live-in care worker.
Covid was a huge catalyst for beginning the companion process. Peter who was used to eating out, states he lost 40 pounds in three months. New guidelines stating that we should stay at home and avoid contact with others meant that he neglected his nourishment. Peter states “it was providence” that he found us at a time he really needed help.
Peter states “living in my own home, making my own choices, sleeping in my own bed, and yet still having access to advice, care and atmosphere” are important aspects to him. It is why he carefully chose an agency that was willing to provide exactly the services he wanted and on his own terms. Choosing a carer that is the ‘best fit’ is also very important as they become an important part of your life. Building a relationship on mutual trust and respect becomes even more important that the actual care.
Peter states that in his professional life he ate in three star restaurants all over the world and that eating meals that are prepared well, healthy, with many choices is very important to him. To that extent he has two wonderful ladies that provide that for him 5 days per week, and whom he says have also become wonderful companions. Peter describes his companions as “thoroughly organized and dedicated individuals with a great skill set and diverse backgrounds!”.
Peter is wonderfully prepared for his future needs. Many however are not. Downsizing is and can be very traumatic, and putting it off will only make the move more challenging. Gradual downsizing through our older years, may be more reasonable and much easier to ease in to.
Our elders and their families often spend years preparing by downsizing from their family home to a condo or smaller home. At some point, a decision has to be made whether you are healthy enough to stay in your home to Age in Place. There can often be a time when Aging in Place is not the right plan for our elders. With that in mind, a decision frequently must be made by family and the agency with regards to the senior’s safety. Some of these are:
- Is it financially viable to remain at home with care? Live-in care can be very costly and is determined by how high the level of care is. Live-in care is priced by assessing the senior for their care needs. Often we place a worker in a companion role, with meal preparation and cuing necessary.
- Does the senior put themselves or their worker at risk by remaining at home? One caregiver relayed that her client was up at night looking for matches to light the wood stove. It was 2 am and he was cold. When she assisted him down the stairs to the fire, she found that it was loaded tight with garbage and toys from his small dog. Had he started that fire, there could have been very serious repercussions.
- Is the senior benefitting from being in their own home? As stated, live-in care can be very costly especially at the end stages of life. If your senior is in advanced stages of dementia and sleeps most of the day, or is not aware of their surroundings, then moving to a facility are may be the better choice for your elder.
By preparing for your future care needs as Peter has, you will be able to maintain a level of living that you are accustomed to. Planning, choosing and decision making don’t become part of Aging in Place, but a continuation of living life as you have always done!