When a person thinks about planning for aging in place, they often think of the medical piece first.   Care management, i.e., medical advocacy, medication management, coordinating care including aides to assist with activities of daily living, are critical to maintaining a senior’s well-being.

But successfully aging in place goes beyond a person’s medical management. How to maintain an older adult’s personal affairs and their home are equally important. A senior’s need for help in managing these things most often happens before they need help with the care management piece.  That is where we come in. Our services go hand in hand with care management when it comes to aging in place. And this is why.

Why, as people age, do they need assistance with paying bills?

The need for bill paying assistance can be triggered by several things. Shaky handwriting, deteriorating eyesight and simply less energy are physical reasons why help becomes warranted. Time is also a factor. Maybe the senior is now caring for a spouse or consumed with their own health issues and, as a result, can’t effectively manage their finances. In some cases, the senior may find themselves assuming responsibilities that had once belonged to a spouse and feel overwhelmed. Cognitive decline is also a major reason for the need for bill paying services. Invoices become more difficult to decipher. The math associated with balancing check registers becomes more difficult.

While autopay is an option for some, many seniors are uncomfortable with the technology. Autopay also won’t monitor discrepancies. Why has the water bill tripled? Did the technician charge twice? What is this bank fee? Having a trusted partner who routinely oversees accounts can make sure that bills are organized, paid timely and correctly.

Why is “organization” throughout the home important?

From a safety perspective, organization is key. Clutter around the home can become a tripping hazard. Carrying items up or down stairs or climbing ladders to reach needed items can lead to falls. From a health perspective, an organized home is easier to clean which leads to a better quality of life.

A clear space with less stuff is also important as cognition declines. Cleaning out means there are fewer things to keep track of. Designating a place for things accessed often (like car keys) can lessen stress and anxiety. Organization of paperwork can be critical in an emergency. Keeping track of important documents makes it easier to locate insurance policies, estate planning documents or phone numbers for professionals like doctors, financial planners, or attorneys. A streamlined system of organization helps eliminate risks and mistakes.

Why is home maintenance so important and why does it become more difficult?

Most often, a home is a person’s most valuable asset. If routine maintenance is not performed, small issues can turn into costly problems. Deterioration can cause the home to be worth less, money that can be vital to financing future care or providing an inheritance for one’s heirs. Deterioration also becomes a hygiene and safety issue. Leaking pipes can lead to mold. Loose steps or railings can cause a fall.

No one likes to deal with repair issues at any age, but for seniors it can become untenable for many of the same reasons bill paying and organization become unmanageable. Caretaking of a spouse or personal health issues can take up hours of time. Assuming a new, unfamiliar role that a spouse once fulfilled is daunting. Additionally, understanding what is wrong and what fix is needed, can be challenging. Knowing who to call and then dealing with contractors can be complicated. It seems easier to simply ignore the problem, which, as I mentioned, can create a much bigger headache down the road. Having someone who can identify problems and manage solutions will help preserve the home’s value and the senior’s peace of mind.

The Bottom Line Big Why

Our mission at Life Managers & Associates is to enable independence for seniors. Where care management firms help a senior navigate the healthcare system, we assist with life functions. We are problem solvers on the home front. We respect that our clients are smart, educated, and successful people who want to preserve their independence and make their own decisions. We work with them, their families, and professionals to help them accomplish their goals and live their best, organized, and well-maintained life.