Small Changes that Make Aging-In-Place at Home Easy

Aging at home is more desirable than moving to assisted living. This is called Aging-In-Place. In fact, the AARP reports that 90% of seniors plan to age at home. However, most senior homes are not equipped for the comfort, convenience, and safety of the elderly. So, how can you or your loved one achieve a senior-friendly home?

Aging at home senior riding his stairlift with a cane in home setting.

Fortunately, floor-to-ceiling renovations are not necessary. Instead, a few small changes will go a long way to improving senior quality of life and relieving pressure on home healthcare workers.

Consider these important tips for home modifications that make aging at home easy:

 

Safety, Security, and Aging at Home

Seniors are more likely than younger people to experience falls and accidents. As such, preparing to age at home requires special attention for safety and security.

Start by tackling lighting. Sufficient lighting makes a big difference for seniors experiencing diminished eyesight. Seniors need two or three times as much light in order to see, so the addition of light fixtures and wide windows is recommended. Make sure that desks, tables and sewing machines have task lighting available. Also, consider repainting dark rooms in light, glare-free colors.

Remove throw rugs and obstacles that could cause a fall. Minimize slipping by treating non-carpeted areas with non-slip sealant. If feasible, consider swapping hardwood and tile floors for carpeting.

Don’t forget the outside of your home! Add outdoor lighting, including guide lights along paths, and clear shrubs and clutter from paths, decks, and patios.

Also, consider installing an alarm or “panic” system that allows the homeowner to call for help in the event of a fall.

 

Mobility and Convenience

If you use a walker or a wheelchair, you may need to widen your doorways. A cheaper and easier alternative is re-hanging doors with swing clear hinges. These allow the door to open all the way and make standard doors wheelchair accessible quickly and easily. Also, if your house is multi-level, you may want to install a chairlift. Finally, replace doorknobs with lever handles and standard light switches with rockers, both of which are much easier for arthritic hands.

The kitchen and bathroom are particular areas of concern in terms of convenience and safety. Step-in showers are best for seniors. A walk-in tub is another alternative, but is often more expensive. Add grab bars to showers and toilets for additional support.

In the kitchen, induction cooktops may be better than traditional stoves since there are no open flames and dishwashers with drawers reduce the need to bend down. Ensure the most-used cooking and dining supplies are in cabinets as close to eye level as possible.

 

Self-Reliance

If you are making home modifications for a senior relative, remember: they know what they need. The goal should not be to reduce their independence but to enhance it, reducing their reliance on you and home health aides while aging in their own home.

The most important thing to remember is that small changes can be better than larger ones. In many cases there are cheap and easy options that can alleviate small stresses. Even small things like “reachers” or talking clocks can make a huge difference to you or your relative’s quality of life.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Five Winter Safety Reminders for the Elderly

winter safety in the elderlyWinter weather poses risks for everyone, but senior citizens need to exercise additional care when the mercury drops. If you are elderly or the caregiver to an elderly loved one, keep these five important winter safety reminders in mind as the weather worsens.

  1. Bundle up!


    While cold temperatures affect everyone, older adults are more vulnerable to hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia can include confusion, slowed heart rate or breathing, and cold, pale skin. Encouraging seniors to layer their clothing can help keep them comfortable and safe. They also allow for adjustments if conditions are warmer or colder than expected. 

  2. Tread carefully.

    Slipping on snowy or icy pavement could easily result in fractures, broken bones or worse. All seniors, but especially seniors with osteoporosis, need to exercise caution when walking outside in the wintertime. When possible, caregivers must make sure sidewalks, steps and driveways are clear of ice and snow. Also, encourage seniors to leave extra time to get to their destinations.

     

  3. Monitor carbon monoxide levels.

    Increased use of fireplaces and portable heaters poses an increased danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Help seniors by making sure they have functioning carbon monoxide detectors on every level of their home. Also, encourage them to have vents and fireplaces cleaned and maintained regularly.

     

  4. Prepare for power outages.


    Preparing ahead of time for possible power outages will help ease seniors’ fears and concerns if the electricity goes out unexpectedly. Caregivers should help seniors set aside emergency provisions such as candles, bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, and blankets in an easily accessible location. 

  5. Breathe easy.


    Cold air and changes in humidity can make breathing difficult and painful. For anyone with COPD or impaired lung function, cold weather can present additional dangers. For seniors using oxygen, keeping the oxygen tubing underneath clothing can help by keeping the oxygen warmer.

When the weather outside is frightful, often the smartest and safest course of action is to stay inside until conditions improve. However, remember that senior citizens often feel isolated. Feeling stuck inside during wintery weather can intensify those feelings and lead to depression. Therefore, it is important to check in on seniors regularly, whether in person or by phone. This may be essential to help combat loneliness and depression.

At David York Agency, we are dedicated to helping the elderly and their loved ones stay safe. We know that winter can be a particularly tough time for seniors. This is why many consider enlisting the help of an in-home caregiver at that time of year. If you or a family member needs a little extra support and attention this winter, we would love to talk to you about your options for home care assistance.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate home caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We would be happy to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.