Age in Place, But Don’t Stay in Place
By Christian Worstell, TZ Health Media
7 Ways You Can Get Out and Be More Active
Aging in place doesn’t have to mean staying in place. Getting out and about to socialize or soak up some sun can do wonders for an older person’s psyche.
Unfortunately, as many as two million older Americans remain confined to their homes and in a state of loneliness, isolation and depression.1
There are a number of potential reasons for older adults becoming homebound, such as:
- They no longer drive;
- They have physical impairments that limit mobility;
- They’re intimidated by the rapidly changing outside world;
- They have caregivers who have limited time or energy to take them out; and
- They simply don’t know where to begin with planning activities or people to go out with.
But there are a number of ways that older adults can get out and about.
1.) Take advantage of mobility assistance devices
Just because an older adult may have difficulty walking doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the great outdoors.
There are increasingly dependable and affordable devices such as wheelchairs, walkers and scooters that can help one get around. Plus, in many cases these devices may be covered by Medicare.
2.) Visit a senior center
Senior centers often offer health and wellness programs. Many senior centers also offer intergenerational programs, opportunities for volunteering and civic engagement, transportation services and more.
3.) Consider adult daycare
Older adults at adult daycare facilities often stay busy enjoying card games, fun education programs, arts and crafts, exercise and, of course, socializing and making new friends.
At most adult daycare facilities, one can choose to drop in as often or as little as you wish.
4.) Give yourself a purpose
It’s easier to get out of the house when there is a reason for doing so.
Sign up to volunteer. Join a club that has regular meetings. Enroll in a class at the local community college. Take up an outdoor hobby, such as gardening. Older adults should even consider adopting a dog, which provides an excuse to take walks around the block.
5.) Utilize senior ridesharing programs
If the inability to drive is keeping one in place, there are a number of options they should consider.
The popular ridesharing company, Uber has a dedicated service that allows seniors to book rides, even if they don’t use a smartphone. GoGoGrandparent is a service that helps old adults to order an Uber or Lyft ride with just one phone call, and they don’t need to use a smartphone to order a ride.
Starting in 2019, non-emergency transportation with a ridesharing service, such as Lyft, can be covered by certain Medicare Advantage plans.
6.) Address any health issues
Many older adults are homebound because of health issues, such as incontinence or hearing and vision problems. It’s important to get the proper healthcare for these issues. Once certain issues are addressed, medically, adults may find that they have more confidence to go out in public.
Older adults should also eat healthy and get enough sleep so that they have the energy to tackle more trips outside of the home.
7.) Attend church
Church is more than just a place of worship for many aging Americans – it’s a community.
Reach out to local churches or parishes and ask about attendance. Adults are likely to find that the church is willing to accommodate finding a ride if anyone requires transportation. Once they’re there, it can be a great place to socialize with other like-minded individuals.
The Benefits of Getting Out and About
There are a number of ways that a trip outside the house can be beneficial:
- Loneliness is a serious threat as we age, and isolated adults typically display higher rates of depression, Alzheimer’s, higher blood pressure and more.
- There is a strong link between getting out of the house and longevity.
- Isolated seniors are more prone to elder abuse.
- Staying in the home can promote riskier and more unhealthy habits, such as over- or under-eating, smoking, alcohol abuse and lack of exercise.
Consider how you or your loved one can get out of the house more and enjoy the many benefits of aging with fun and a sense of adventure.
1 Ornstein, K., et al. Epidemiology of the Homebound Population in the United States. (July 2015). JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(7), 1180-1186. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1849.