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No matter how excellent senior living communities can be, most seniors prefer to stay in their homes. Yet staying in the home can be difficult. Many seniors don’t have family members able to provide free round-the-clock care. It’s not unusual for seniors to live alone, with adult children scattered throughout the country. And professional long-term care can be difficult to pay for, since it’s not covered by Medicare or private insurance.
As a senior with even minor mobility issues, household tasks can become difficult to handle on your own. Cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, and even cooking and cleaning can be hard or impossible to manage. Some hassles such as storms, falls and power outages can turn deadly.
However, you can develop a safety network of people who can help you with day-to-day tasks and perhaps provide life-saving assistance in case of a larger problem—without losing your home. Here’s how social networking—both in person and online—can help you.
Look into membership organizations for seniors
With a variety of contacts, you should be able to get the help you need and extend the length of time you can stay in your home in safety.
Get to know your neighbors
It’s crucial for seniors to know their neighbors—a friendly neighbor may sometimes be the only one around to help in an emergency. If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them. Ask if they wouldn’t mind serving as an emergency contact for you. If you’re uncomfortable asking for help, be sure their responsibility is limited to calling an ambulance or a ride to the hospital if needed.
Get in touch with other seniors
Are there other seniors in your area who might need the same social support? Find out who they are. Build a group of seniors who can periodically call each other to check in, recommend handymen for household repairs, and more. You never know when you might just need someone to check on you.
Don’t have a Facebook page? Start one. Not only do you get to keep in touch with your family and get updates about the grandkids every day—you also have a network of support available at your fingertips if you get in trouble. You can use your Facebook page to create an “emergency network” of contacts, or put out a call for specific help—anything from help fixing a leaky pipe to transportation to a key event—on your Facebook page.
Get in touch with volunteer organizations. There are many volunteer groups who provide services that seniors can use—from help with household and repair tasks to companionship, transportation, cooking, and yardwork. See what nonprofit organizations exist in your area that might be able to provide volunteer help for you—and follow up.
Staying in the home may be the ideal situation for most seniors—but it isn’t easy, and many seniors can’t do it on their own. Get the help you need by building a network of friends, family, and volunteers who can provide you with the help you need—whether that’s light housework, transportation, yardwork, or other basic help with regular everyday tasks. With a variety of contacts by phone and online, you should be able to get the help you need and extend the length of time you can stay in your home in safety.