Aging in Place: Older Population Stays PutOct 03, 2022 11:17AM ● By Ann Marie O'Phelan
Aging in place is becoming a common phrase as more seniors realize that living at home, rather than going to an outside facility, is a good option. It is often the best choice when emotional, physical, and financial elements are in place. Many seniors can stay in their familiar settings with simple home modifications; the use of outside services such as cleaning help, personal aides, grocery and meal delivery services, virtual or house-call medical help; and participation in events, workshops, and classes that are geared to assist seniors; as well as membership in senior groups and centers to connect with others.
Home modifications can work wonders, and they don’t have to be costly additions. They can include adding lights, arranging furniture for easier accessibility, removing loose rugs, incorporating railings and grab bars in the bathroom, keeping flashlights in every room in case of a power outage, and attaching phone finders to cell phones in case of misplacement. AARP offers a HomeFit Webinar Tour that offers a wealth of room-by room modification tips (youtube.com/watch?v=kML27_uZsP4).
For example, says Fort Myers resident Janine Smith, “We put night lights in every room to help provide better visibility, without adding too much light to disrupt sleep.”
Employing outside services can make staying at home more doable for both the caregiver and the aging person. These include cleaning, lawn and garden, laundry, and personal aides—all of which should be checked out beforehand. The Better Business Bureau is an excellent place to start (bbb.org), as well as online reviews at sites such as Yelp.
Many grocery stores such as Publix and Whole Foods provide home delivery, and many local restaurants offer meal delivery services through DoorDash and Grubhub. Meals on Wheels is an organization that helps ensure that nutritious meals are delivered daily to seniors in need (mealsonwheelsamerica.org).
The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL) is a nonprofit organization focused on helping older adults and adults with disabilities live independently in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota counties. Resources and information on various topics such as health and wellness and elder abuse, home-aide health services, senior ride programs, nonmedical transportation, and food pantries can be found at aaaswfl.org.
Lee Health also offers various medical services to help seniors age in place, such as House Calls, which delivers medical care in the patient’s home. Lee TeleHealth provides 24/7 on-demand urgent care services remotely, accessible through its mobile app or website. DispatchHealth is a new, convenient way for Lee County residents to receive high-quality, in-person medical care while never having to leave their homes. Patients can now be treated at home for injuries and illnesses such as the flu, cuts and lacerations that require stitches, and more—thanks to medical care that is brought to your door.
Those who want to participate in virtual health and wellness classes and workshops also in luck. Lee Health offers a variety of topics such as yoga, meditation, and chronic disease management and prevention.
Cooking classes are also available through Lee Health - Healthy Life Centers in Estero and Fort Myers. “We have a teaching kitchen at our Healthy Life Center and have done virtual cooking demos, so our attendees can learn some healthy tips from the comfort of their own home,” says Carrie Bloemers, director of the Healthy Life Center at Lee Health Coconut Point. Healthy Life Centers in Cape Coral, Estero, and Babcock Ranch also offer senior fitness classes and workshops.
“Our goal is to inspire people where they’re at so they can make a healthy change to be the best version of themselves. It doesn’t have to be big, but slowly moving the needle on their health and wellness,” says Bloemers.
Lee Health has seen such success with its virtual classes and workshops that it has launched a new podcast called Living the Healthy Life. “The podcast is focused on health and wellness spotlights, unique service lines, and features special stories on our team members,” explains Bloemers.
The virtual classes and workshops began in May 2020 during the Covid pandemic. “Our attendees loved them so much, so we kept offering the virtual classes and workshops,” notes Bloemers. “Each month, we have about eight to 10. We also do small, in-person groups, and we’ve gotten really great feedback from our attendees” To find out more, listen to, or read the transcripts, visit leehealth.org/health-and-wellness/lee-health-podcasts. There are also a variety of blogs on topics such as nutrition, exercise and overall health that can be accessed at leehealth.org/health-and-wellness/healthy-news-blog/exercise-and-nutrition.
“Our seniors like the virtual experience because they don’t have to get out; they can learn from their homes and still feel connected to other people,” says Bloemers. “It gives them great social interaction, making them feel engaged and connected. Many of our seniors who have a home up north are still staying connected through the virtual classes and workshops.”
Local senior centers are also excellent resources. For example, the Island Seniors at the Center 4 Life on Sanibel is offering a senior informational series this fall and winter. Topics range from aging in place to senior health/activities and available services. They will be presented by the nonprofit organization FISH of Sanibel (which assists senior citizens and families) at the Sanibel Recreation Center.
“There are also regularly scheduled senior activities at the center such as weekly kayak excursions, overnight and charter bus travel destinations, theater shows, museum tours, local attractions, lunch gatherings, potlucks, fitness classes, and more,” adds Island Seniors president Shirley Schulz.
Other local senior centers also offer a wealth of resources for area residents. These include Lehigh Acres Senior Citizen Center, Lake Kennedy Center and Tony Rotino Senior Center in Cape Coral, Senior Friendship Centers in Fort Myers, Bay Oaks Social Seniors (BOSS) in Fort Myers Beach, and Naples Senior Center.
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.
Classes and Events
Healthy Life Centers
42880 Crescent Loop, Babcock Ranch
609 SE 13th Court, Cape Coral
23450 Via Coconut Point, Estero
Lake Kennedy Center
400 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral
Tony Rotino Center
5817 Driftwood Pkwy., Cape Coral
Senior Friendship Centers of Lee County
12734 Kenwood Lane, Fort Myers
FORT MYERS BEACH
Bay Oaks Social Seniors (BOSS)
Bay Oaks Recreation Campus
2731 Oak Street, Fort Myers Beach
Lehigh Senior Center
219 Plaza Drive, Lehigh Acres
Naples Senior Center
5025 Castello Drive, Naples
Center 4 Life at the Sanibel Recreation Center
3880 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel
239-472-0345, ask for Dave or Jessica