5 Steps to Aging in Place Safely

8/14/2015

nurse in aged care for the elderly

Wink Martini here with a few more nuggets of knowledge I’ve gained during my quest for reliable and affordable senior home care for my Pops. You have probably read about “aging in place” when you were researching Maryland senior home care options for your loved one. But what the heck does that mean?

Aging in place simply means that a person can safely grow older in the comfort of their own home and community. Sounds like an ideal solution, doesn’t it? But wait, who is going to take care of my Pops at home while I’m making money to pay for my martinis? And is staying at home even safe for someone who has trouble with personal hygiene and needs reminders to take their medication?

These are all good questions and your concerns are understandable. That’s why you need a thought-through plan to ensure safe and secure aging in place for your loved one, and here are a few tips to get you started!

Identify the Challenges

First of all, you need to determine the key challenges that may make aging at home problematic for your loved one. Start with their health conditions and consider the following questions:

  • Does your loved one need help taking their medications?
  • Do they suffer from chronic health conditions that require a special diet or frequent doctor visits?
  • Do they require special care due to Alzheimer’s or dementia?
  • Do they have difficulty performing certain household tasks?
  • Do they use personal mobility devices?

Make a list of any limitations your loved one has due to their health condition and think of the ways to address them.

Next, examine your loved one’s home and look for the following problems:

  • Items located where your loved one can’t reach them.
  • Insufficient space for the use of a wheelchair or a walker.
  • Slippery surfaces that present risk of slipping and falling.
  • Lack of safety features, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

This will give you an idea about the potential obstacles to aging in place, considering the current layout and features of their residence.

Make Home Modifications

Once you know what’s broken, you can start fixing it! There are numerous interior and exterior home improvements you can make to turn any space from dangerous into senior-friendly. Here are some of the most common home modifications you should consider:

  • Widening door frames to allow for comfortable wheelchair use.
  • Installing indoor and outdoor wheelchair ramps for easy access.
  • Installing grab bars for support in the bathroom and other areas.
  • Removing clutter, wires and other tripping hazards.
  • Installing sufficient lighting in all major task areas.
  • Converting the bathroom to a curbless shower or a walk-in bathtub.
  • Switching to comfortable furniture such as lift chairs, therapeutic bed, etc.

These are just some of the modifications you can make to improve the safety and comfort of your loved one’s space. A wheelchair user may require more adjustments than someone who can get around with a walker or a cane. However, nothing is impossible and every home can be modified to fit your loved one’s unique mobility needs.

Find a Reliable Caregiver

As a concerned family member, you probably have a spouse and children of your own who demand your constant attention. Always being there for your elderly loved one is not possible without major sacrifices, but you don’t have to make them. Why not hire a professional caregiver to take care of your loved one’s needs, provide companionship and ensure safety whenever you are not around?

At 2nd Family, we aim to provide the best possible care for your loved one, while allowing them to maintain their independence. Our Maryland caregivers can do laundry or pick up a prescription, but we won’t take over a task your loved one actually enjoys.

Ensure High Quality of Life

Aging in place doesn’t translate to a high quality of life if all your loved one can do is stay at home and watch TV. There are probably certain things, people or hobbies your loved one especially enjoys that make their life complete. Make sure they are still able to enjoy these things without pain and to their fullest ability. Think about what arrangements you would need to make with your family or your caregiver to provide the following:

  • Visits to or from friends and family members
  • Ability to go outside
  • Ability to attend community events
  • Ability to engage in favorite hobbies
  • Comfortable, pain-free living

Make Continuous Adjustments

The aging in place arrangement you will originally come up with won’t work forever. As your loved one ages, their needs may change and you may have to make some adjustments. This may include making changes to their diet, closer supervision or new mobility equipment. That’s why it helps to have a caring senior caregiver keeping an eye on your loved one. They will notice any slight changes in the health or behavior and promptly alert you, so that you can make appropriate decisions.

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at Wink@2ndFamily.com.

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