We were having a casual Sunday morning breakfast. My husband was dipping pineapple slices into cottage cheese. I was dipping a spoon into a bag of granola. We were still in our pajamas. This was a day of leisure between playing with the grandchildren and starting the workweek. We were enjoying sharing the day and our lives together. But we also talked about the fact that, as we age, our lifestyle may get a bit challenging.
The column in the newspaper looked at various models of aging and living at home with in home senior services we might need. But was that a plan, or just a discussion? Aging in place is an idea. We would need a plan to get that idea into action when the time came.
Assessing where and how we live now, and considering what might change as we age, was a new conversation for us. The critical conversations would involve special steps for turning our ideas into action plans.
Here’s the list of ideas we shared and action plans we considered:
Idea: We have an upstairs and a basement level. My office is upstairs. His office is downstairs. If or when we might have difficulty managing the stairs on a daily basis, we might initially change our calendar from a daily to a weekly visit to our office.
Plan: We are dedicated to a major cleaning and reorganization of our office spaces and will dedicate a space on the main floor for each of our offices. Our plan is to only need a weekly, rather than a daily visit to that space. We have identified a space for each of us in our living area and are repurposing those spaces.
Idea: We have lived in the same city most of our lives and are knowledgeable about its highways and surface streets. Aging eyesight may require us to change our driving patterns, so we are defining what is in our comfort zone and provides us a good quality of life.
Plan: My husband travels each day, but is now looking for ways to stay in touch with his customers and business associates without putting on so many miles. Both of us are looking at ways to do business that will not require so many on-sight visits. A majority of our leisure activities are based close to home, but we are looking at ways to meet up with friends who do not live in our comfort zones.
Idea: We already live in close proximity to some major hospitals and healthcare providers, so our idea is to direct our healthcare to these nearby locations.
Plan: We are making a list of all our healthcare providers including internists, specialists, eye doctors, dentists, and any other providers we now visit. We are moving all health care to our nearby “pill hill”.
Shopping for groceries and other necessities
Idea: I rarely go to the mall, finding success with online purchasing from stores I have visited for many years, and brands I have bought over those years. I recently made my first online food purchase, and the boxes of crackers, granola, cereals, pastas and other non-perishables came without a shipping charge.
Plan: We are making a list of our weekly perishables and researching which grocery stores will provide online ordering and delivery to our door. We are also making a list of our pharmaceuticals and determining their best home delivery plan. Our vet already sends us notices, makes appointments and suggests healthcare items for our dog which we can order online.
Staying in touch with friends who live outside of our geographic area
Idea: It’s not that we don’t want to stay in touch. But sometimes we just can’t be with friends who move elsewhere to be with their grandchildren, and friends who have moved to other communities that are too far away for us to comfortably visit.
Plan: We have an annual open house to welcome friends who have touched our lives in the past years. And, as a museum professional, I would send out a monthly update to my museum community, so they would know what was going on in the galleries. Putting those two ideas together, we are planning to organize the happy events of the year and send a holiday bulletin from our house to those who still touch our lives with their friendship.
There are surely more situation — some challenging and others that just need a plan — that will crop up. But talking together now, coming up with ideas, and making a plan, all seem to be supporting our loving, relationship as we age, and our plan to age in place.