There are countless quotes that echo the sentiment of “Home Sweet Home!”, many of these even made into signs, cross stitching, or artwork to adorn our walls. We spend time designing, creating, and building a home. We take what’s otherwise just a building, or a structure of sorts, and we pour our heart and soul transforming it from a house into a home.
The concept of a home is so powerful that we have a specific term when we leave it – “homesick” — and yet another when we return to it – homecoming. Such an event is celebrated when our loved ones return home from serving our country, when tiny babies grow enough to complete a long NICU stay, when the elderly gain enough strength to leave the hospital or rehabilitation center, or when an individual returns to their alma mater each fall. In fact, the feeling or the idea of a home is so universal and concrete that artists over the years, from all genres, have written songs about it. Chances are you can hum along with John Denver, Chris Daughtry, Little Big Town, and John Mellencamp.
Our ties to our home are so strong, that the idea of every leaving it can be daunting, especially for someone who has been dwelling in the same place for countless decades. It’s important for you to sit down, with your loved one when possible, to discuss and evaluate if home is the best place for them to be.
The benefits of being at home most certainly include the emotions and memories tied to it, but other perks as well. Let’s explore just a few.
- Familiarity– As painted in the “picture” above, home is generally where we feel most comfortable. It’s a place of peace and relaxation where we can let our guard down and feel free to be ourselves. This idea is especially beneficial to those who are experiencing cognitive decline.
- Health– It has been scientifically proven that individuals recover from illness and injury more quickly in their homes than in any other setting, such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility.
- Routine– We tend to fall into a “groove” or a routine in our homes; we grow comfortable with the predictability of the day-to-day events within the walls of our home. We have a sense of security that can be disturbed when we are uprooted from our home or our routine.
- Independence– We feel in control of our environment at our own homes, allowing us to feel more independent. In other’s homes or alternative spaces, we feel like a guest, making it harder to relax and be comfortable.
- Housework– Day to day chores that once seemed simple may now feel overwhelming or impossible. Do you find it difficult to keep the house clean, the yard freshly cut, and the gardens weeded, the fridge and pantry stocked, and the laundry clean? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may consider outsourcing some of these chores.
- Personal care and hygiene– It’s possible that you may need a bit of assistance with showering/bathing, washing hair, getting dressed, and other basic grooming tasks.
- Meals– Preparing meals can be quite involved! First you must plan the meals, shop for the groceries, unload your bag, and prep the food… all before you even sit down to eat! That doesn’t even involve the cleanup process following your meal. Consider buying home cooked, prepared meals that are ready to heat and eat! If you get tired of eating alone and long for some company, look for dining opportunities at local churches or community centers, or start a lunch bunch where you take turns hosting potluck meals.
- Healthcare– If you find it difficult to keep up with doctor’s appointments, transportation to and from, sorting your medications, etc., you may benefit from assistance in this area.
Choosing to live independently within your own home does not come without concerns. While it sounds like a lovely option, the decision must be examined closely.
- Transportation– Will you have an adequate and reliable means to get you where you need to go and when you need to get there?
- Mobility– Are you able to get around easily on your own or with support from a walker or a cane? If you require a scooter, is your home suitable to accommodate one? Do modifications, such as a ramp or widened walkways, need to be made?
- Safety– Is your home safe and have all steps been taken to minimize fall risks? Clear walkways of clutter, secure rugs or remove all together, tucks away wires and cords, etc. Install handrails in your shower and beside your toilet.
- Activities and Interaction– If you live at home alone, be sure there are enough opportunities to interact with others and socialize both in and out of the home.
Though living in the comfort of your own home may be the most appealing option, there may come a point in time where it is no longer safe or advantageous. If the pros are outweighed by the cons, then you may need to adopt the saying that “home is where the heart is” and open your heart and mind to the idea of moving to an assisted living facility.