As an Independent Living Specialist, I see many people who are living in a nursing home who want to go home. I also see quite a few individuals living at home who are terrified that they are going to end up in a nursing home. Although most of us realize there are times we need more care than our loved ones can provide for us at home, we also hate the prospect of ending up dependent on others…especially for such things as toileting, bathing, and dressing. And it’s not just having to let someone else help with those personal daily tasks. It’s also knowing that you’ll be one of a multitude of people needing the same kind of help, and it’s not going to be performed on your schedule. You’re going to have to wait your turn. That’s fine until I have to go to the toilet!
So, what can you do to hedge your bets and give yourself the best chance of remaining independent? Well, the first professional advice I can give you is treat your family well. No, really, guess who is first in line to be providing that care when you need it: right, your spouse and children. If your spouse is in good health, you’re in luck. If your kids are willing to step up to the plate, all the better. There does often come a time though when your care may require professional nursing or 24/7 dedication. Believe me, one person cannot provide that kind of care. If you are demanding and crabby, your family is going to be quicker to give up and put you in the nursing home. You need to make it as easy on them as possible to care for you, because remember, this isn’t all they do. It’s something that gets added on to their existing load. I say this all from having seen many veterans, both men and women, who get crabby because of their pain, and take it out on their spouse and kids.
The next step you can take is to keep yourself as healthy as possible, as long as possible. LISTEN to your doctor. For goodness sake, you’re paying him or her to give you his/her professional opinion on how to best deal with your health issues. Follow their advice. If what they’ve suggested isn’t working, tell them. Then follow their advice for what else to do.
Pay attention to the little things. Get enough sleep. Eat some healthy foods. Do what you can to reduce your stress. Get involved. Volunteer if you can’t work. Do something for someone else. Nothing can help you realize your blessings like helping someone who has less than you do.