Help Your Senior Stay Safe at Home Using These 5 Tips
Aging in place independently can be a struggle for many seniors and their loved ones. Often, health problems accompanying or compounded by aging can cause a variety of mobility issues, and for many older individuals, the concept of living with their child or in a nursing home is simply inconceivable. Fortunately, there are ways caregivers can help their loved ones remain in their homes during their golden years while making them feel independent.
1. Addressing Health Concerns
A considerable number of older adults suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Such conditions often require patients to take multiple medications on a regular basis, and if they fail to do so, they could fall victim to a variety of complications. Some caregivers choose to combat this threat by applying simple, yet effective, solutions such as using a pill organizer or setting a medication-reminder timer. These can provide a loved one the chance to remember and take their medication themselves, without the need of a caregiver advising them regularly.
2. Assistive Devices
Aging in place is a priority for many seniors, but what happens if your loved one has severe mobility issues? Such issues can make staying at home alone risky, fortunately, there are numerous medical devices in the market capable of helping seniors improve their mobility without the need of an extra hand. These devices include:
- Motorized scooters
There are many different variations of each of the listed devices. A more commonly used in-home device to transport individuals up and down one or more flights of stairs, stairlifts are becoming increasingly popular due to increased awareness among both caregiving and aging adults. These machines consist of a chair (typically foldable to conserve space), which is attached to a motorized railing for lifting an individual to the top or bottom of the stairs, and sometimes can come with a few other fancy additions like a remote instead of having to manually operate a system. Stairlifts can often be designed to complement the décor of a home or room, and they are easily installed by professionals.
3. Fall Prevention
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one out of four seniors will suffer a fall each year. To make matters worse, more than 3 million seniors are treated annually at emergency hospital rooms for injuries related to falls. Such statistics can be shocking for caregivers, but the following measures can drastically reduce a loved one’s risk of falling at home:
- Ensure rooms and stairways are well-lit.
- Place non-slip mats on slippery surfaces, such as finished wood, tile, and laminate.
- Wear non-slip shoes and socks.
- Remove all clutter from walkways.
- Bolt down or remove throw-rugs.
Even though seniors want to be independent, some seniors with mobility issues or low strength may have difficulty removing the clutter in their homes alone, so it might be necessary for their loved ones or caregivers to help. Make sure that an elderly loved one’s house is organized and designed to be navigational and free of random items placed around the house.
Cell phones have come a long way since their inception, and they can be a lifesaver for seniors. Expensive, complicated smartphones can be confusing for some older adults, but fortunately, there are many companies now offering simpler cell phones and services solely for seniors. In addition to calling 911, seniors should also program the names of their doctors, pharmacist, and loved ones into their phones.
Luckily, there are even some phone apps that can help seniors live more independently and safely. Some apps are used for:
- Finding local events and discounts to keep seniors involved with their community.
- Prescription price comparisons (under doctor’s orders of course).
- A panic button for alerting your pre-designated contacts about an emergency such as a serious fall.
- Social platforms designed for elders to communicate with their families through images, videos, and text without worry of spam or ads.
5. Structural Changes
Sometimes, simple, cost-efficient structural changes can make a home more livable. Securing handrails, placing grab bars in bathrooms and kitchens, and adding wheelchair-accessible ramps can make a huge difference for mobility-impaired seniors. Some seniors may even be eligible for financial assistance from state and federal government agencies.
Safely Aging at Home Independently
Aging in place is possible for most seniors, and with a bit of planning and preparation, caregivers can ensure their loved ones remain independent and comfortable in a setting they are familiar with. The best thing for a loved one would be to have a conversation with them on how they would feel comfortable being independent and try suggesting using one or several of the solutions listed above.
Joseph Jones has been writing senior care and aging related articles for years. He got his start while writing for a personal blog before he was offered to work at California Mobility in 2018 as the Content Marketing Manager, creating highly informative guides and health awareness articles for aging adults.
He’s currently contributing to a variety of blogs in the industry in hopes to spread information about taking care of seniors and what to expect in the aging process.