senior and nurse

The value of maintaining one’s independence only becomes apparent once you grow older. Retirement homes with assisted-living conditions might be popular, but they aren’t for everyone — certainly not Utahns. Utah seniors are some of the healthiest in the nation, and most of them prefer to live in their own homes.

Renovate before Retirement

Salt Lake City has one of the healthiest senior populations in the USA and also one of the most long-lived. Plan for your later years early on because you won’t have the time or inclination to do so once you’re past 70 or 80. Make your house accessible and safe by changing the floor plans to get rid of steps that can cause you to trip and install support rails in strategic locations around the house.

Your bathroom is the most dangerous room in your house, so pay more attention to it when making renovations. Install grab bars, especially near the toilet. Your knees will thank you, and you’ll avoid keeling over in an embarrassing place. You can still take showers and baths now, but they’ll be a bit more dangerous once you get a bit older.

Slips and falls are common in the bathroom, more so when you add soapy water into the mix. Unless you can be satisfied with towel rubs, opt for a walk-in tub. Choose hot tubs that you can easily use or have one custom-built to your specifications. Handholds and walk-in tubs ensure that your most private moments stay private so that you can keep your dignity even in your final days.

Expand your Medicare Coverage

Seniors can apply for free Medicare coverage, but that coverage won’t pay for your medication or extended hospital stays. You’ll need to expand your coverage through private insurance that offers a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. MA will cover your medication as well as some other expenses that can be tied to your health. It covers preventative costs as well as non-emergency expenditures like prescription glasses, hearing aids, even home renovations to accommodate mobility issues or wheelchair-use. MA allows you to choose physicians within their network, but it will still partially cover those outside of it.

Eat Right and Don’t Stop Moving

healthy foods

One of the reasons the USA has exceptionally high healthcare costs compared to other countries is obesity. Specific conditions associated with obesity include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of strokes, gallbladder disease, cancers, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems, and many others.

According to a study by the Center for Social Dynamics and Policy, together with the World Food Center of the University of California-Davis, being obese increases your lifetime expenditure by up more than $90,000, an amount that won’t be lightly covered by your pension or social security. Watch your diet and get a bit of exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block during the mornings. A healthy lifestyle and regular exercise can bring your weight down and decrease your risk of the conditions associated with obesity.

A senior-friendly home, adequate insurance, and a healthy lifestyle ensure you can live independently for as long as possible. The dignity of not asking for help is invaluable, but it requires a bit of preparation.

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