As Americans, we prize our independence. So it isn’t much of a surprise to learn that nearly 90% of people over age 65 want to live at home for as long as possible, according to a 2011 AARP survey. However, according to research by the AARP, a significant number of seniors who should be receiving assisted living care services remain living at home, alone. Even if older adults begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care during retirement, most (82 percent) would prefer to stay in their homes.  Only a few express a preference for moving to a facility where care is provided (9 percent) or for moving to a relative’s home (4 percent). The reality is that even with good planning, two-thirds of older adults will require some form of assistance to go about their daily lives, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers published in the American Journal of Public Health.

A variety of independent living products and services are available to help seniors remain in their own homes despite their changing physical needs. If your goal is to live at home, as independently as possible for as long as possible, aging professionals recommend learning about the resources and supports available in your community. And the sooner the better. A conversation with the people who run community programs can help you weigh your options. “Reach out early, because we might be able to tell you about all kinds of things that you want to be thinking about or exploring before it becomes a need,” says Laura Trejo, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Aging.

An event scheduled for Thursday, September 22 offers this opportunity to learn about your options. Community Thread’s Senior Centers are hosting an Independent Living Care Fair from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at 2300 West Orleans Street in Stillwater. This free event is an opportunity for seniors and their family members to learn about care and support services available in the community. Representatives from 15 in-home care and support services organizations will be available to answer questions.

The organizations attending the event will be able to provide information on finding transportation to medical appointments, locating a new place to live, finding resources to help with simple daily tasks in your home, such as laundry or light housekeeping, plus general information from resources and services for older adults seeking to remain independent.

The event is open to the public and no reservation is needed. So take the advice from the lady in California and plan ahead for easier transitions later. You will be glad you did.

By Sally Anderson