We have choices to make as we get older, and one of the most significant is where we want to spend our senior years. Some people choose to live with family, while others like the idea of an assisted living facility. Then, there are those who choose to age in place in the comfort of their own home.
If you are a caretaker or a loved one of an older family member that has decided to stay put, you should respect their choice but also be there to help them to be safe and enjoy their later years. Let’s talk about how to help seniors who want to age in place and the modifications you can create to make their lives easier.
Be There For Them
As your loved ones get older, you need to start thinking about the care they will need during their senior years, especially if they have an illness. Some conditions may make it difficult for them to get around, so you will want to plan for that eventuality. Even if there isn't a specific illness, it is also important to prepare for the common ailments associated with aging, be it difficulty washing and grooming themselves or completing household chores. Talk to a doctor to learn what to expect.
If you cannot be around all of the time, then you will want to put some precautions in place so your loved one can call for help if they have an incident while they are alone. For instance, you could install a medical alert system in the house so they can call for help immediately if they find themselves in danger. As they get older, you might also consider implementing a buddy system, so there is always someone around to help.
Since they will be aging in place, someone will need to be around to take care of the existing financial matters. Utilities will still need to be paid, and if your loved one cannot get around, then someone may also need to buy groceries and other necessities week after week. You could arrange for automatic bill pay online, so they never miss a due date. Always keep an eye on the physical mailbox for warnings and notices. It might also be a good idea to implement smart home technology to make it easier for your loved one to control things like the thermostat.
Modify The Home
As time goes on and it becomes harder to get around the house, modifications to the property can be a real lifesaver. The changes that you make will depend on the needs of your loved one. So, if they require a wheelchair to get around then building a ramp may be a good idea. If their bedroom is upstairs and arrangements can’t be made for them to sleep on a lower floor, then you may want to consider installing a chair lift that will allow them to get to bed safely.
Next, inspect the home for any areas where it can be easy to slip and fall and make the necessary modifications. The bathroom can be a slippery place, so consider installing grab bars next to the toilet and the tub so they can get up easily without getting hurt. While you are at it, consider reinforcing the railing along the stairs or installing a new one to ensure that it will be sturdy when they need it most.
The bathroom is just a starting point. Now, go around the house and look at other potential problem areas. If necessary, remove any unnecessary throw rugs that could slip out from under their feet, add non-slip tape to hardwood floors and stairs, and remove any cluttered furniture. Even with all of these precautions, it is still a good idea to have a caregiver keep an eye on things for maximum protection.
Giving Them Independence
Even though they may be getting older, it doesn’t mean that your loved one should be cooped up inside the house all day. If there is someone there to watch over things and help out if necessary, then they should get outside so they can breathe the fresh air and get some exercise. In fact, engaging in physical activity can actually help seniors to avoid the risk of slip and fall incidents and maintain muscle mass.
Of course, precautions are necessary, especially if your loved one still enjoys getting behind the wheel and driving. There are many different vehicle modifications that can make getting into and operating a car easier if someone is disabled or otherwise less capable. For instance, you can add hand controls, wheelchair lifts, and modified steering wheels. You can also find programs online to help with the cost.
If mobility is an issue, then you can use technology to help seniors get out and about. Wheelchairs can sometimes be a bit restrictive, so consider purchasing a mobility scooter. A motorized scooter will give them a chance to meet up with friends, drive through the park, and allow them to travel short distances without feeling like anybody is looking over their shoulder.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can support a senior who has decided to age in place within the comfort of their own home. Provide the support they need, and they will find great joy during their later years.