One of the biggest struggles seniors face is the loss of independence. After decades of being responsible for themselves, the roles reverse from caregiver to the one needing help. It can be an emotional transition for many seniors, so it’s no wonder that many try to stay independent and age at home for as long as possible.
Fortunately, there are measures families can take to keep their older loved ones safe at home. Here are some tips to help seniors safely maintain their independence.
Remove Falling Hazards
A huge concern for many seniors is falling. As we age, we tend to lose our sense of balance and coordination, making it harder to correct ourselves when we trip. Additionally, aging goes hand-in-hand with bone density loss, making it easier to break a bone, even with a minor fall. Finally, the body’s healing processes slow down, making a break riskier for seniors.
The best way to prevent falls is to remove hazards that could cause a trip or slip. Area rugs are a common offender for seniors who don’t lift their feet much while walking. Other items such as cords and certain furniture pieces, can also be hazardous.
An often overlooked tripping hazard are the doorways in a home. If there is a trim that transitions one type of flooring to another, this could pose a tripping risk and should be removed. It can also be beneficial to add small ramps at the threshold of exterior doors.
Stairs can be potentially deadly for seniors who have balance issues. If it’s not possible to downsize into a home without stairs, consider how you can mitigate the need for travel between floors.
Invest In an Emergency Alert System
Emergency alert systems are a must-have for seniors who live alone. These wearable devices call for help when triggered, either by pushing a button or from inactivity for a specified period. When choosing a medical alert system, the most important factors are the quality and reliability of a company’s monitoring center (source: https://www.health.com/).
Using an emergency alert system is a fantastic compromise for families who want to ensure their aging relatives are safe without advanced care. These devices can increase the time spent aging at home without compromising safety.
Improve Accessibility at Home
As time goes by, changes to the home should be made to improve accessibility. Even if the senior in question doesn’t need all of these extras just yet, it’s wise to have these implements in place before they are even necessary.
Some basics include installing (or securing existing) handrails along stairs, as well as in the bathroom. Adding a bar or handle by the bed can also help seniors get in and out of bed safely, especially if their mobility is limited.
Many seniors struggle with arthritis and diminished grip strength. If that’s the case, replace door knobs with lever-style handles to make it easier to open and close doors.
Create a Monthly Maintenance Checklist
It’s important for families to check in frequently with the independent seniors in their lives. Family members can help seniors age in place for longer by creating a monthly maintenance checklist for the younger members of the family to handle. If there are no close family members, it’s worth paying a local person to conduct the monthly checks.
This maintenance checklist should include things such as:
• Checking smoke alarms
• Looking out for tripping hazards
• Cleaning out vents (dryer, etc.)
• Cleaning walkways
• Checking electric cords for degradation
• Dusting high areas of the home
You may determine that a weekly maintenance list is better or choose to handle some seasonal tasks, whatever works for your family.
Conduct Technology Training
Finally, helping the senior in your life learn technology can be a lifesaver. Ensure they know how to operate a mobile phone or connect to the internet via a tablet. This know-how will help them stay connected and use special services such as telehealth. Many community organizations – public libraries, for example – also often offer this service.
With these simple tips, seniors can age safely at home and maintain their independence during their golden years.