Aging: There's No Place Like Home - Growing Old (cont.)

Products to make life easier. Is it getting harder to turn a door knob, get out of a chair, or put on your socks? There are things available to make these activities and many of the other things you do during the day easier. The Department of Education provides a Web site, www.abledata.com. If you can't get to or use a computer, they will answer your questions at 1-800-227-0216. This Web site has information on more than 30,000 assistive technology products designed to make it easier for people with physical limitations to do things for themselves.

Getting around-at home and in town. Are you having trouble walking? Think about getting an electric chair or scooter. These are sometimes covered by Medicare. Do you need someone to go with you to the doctor or shopping? Volunteer escort services may be available. Don't drive a car any longer? Free or lower-priced public transportation and taxis may be offered in your area. Maybe a relative, friend, or neighbor would take you along when they go on errands or do yours for you.

Activities and friends. Are you bored staying at home? Try visiting your local senior center. They offer a variety of activities. You might see some old friends there and meet new people too. Is it hard for you to leave your home? Maybe you would enjoy visits from someone on a regular basis. Volunteers are sometimes available to stop by or call once a week. They can just keep you company, or you can talk about any problems you are having.

Safety. Are you worried about crime in your neighborhood, physical abuse, or losing money as a result of a scam? Talk to your local area agency on aging. Do you live alone and are afraid of becoming sick with no one around to help? You might want to get an emergency alert system. You just push a special button that you wear, and emergency medical personnel are called. A monthly fee is charged.

Care away from home. Do you need care but live with someone who can't stay with you during the day? For example, maybe they work. Adult day care outside the home is sometimes available for older people who need help getting around or caring for themselves. The day care center can even pick you up and bring you home. If your caretaker needs to get away overnight, there are places that will provide more extended temporary respite care.

Housing. Does your home need a few changes to make it easier and safer to live in? Think about things like a ramp at the front door, grab bars in the tub or shower, nonskid floors, more comfortable handles on doors or faucets, and better insulation. Sound expensive? You might be able to get help paying for these changes. Check with your local or State Area Agencies on Aging, State housing finance agency, welfare department, community development groups, or the Federal Government (see For More Information ).