The saying that “there’s no place like home” is one that resonates with everyone.
Yet, having to leave home and live at somewhere else i.e. an aging facility when they get older is one worry that often plagues the mind of our seniors.
It doesn’t have to be that way – successful senior independent living at home is more than viable option nowadays, more than ever.
Senior Independent Living: Our 10 Best Tips and Strategies
1. Identify Your Needs
This is the very first thing you have to do because this will dictate the steps or changes you’ll need to make as well as the level of care you’ll need to get.
You see, the needs of those with mobility issues will be very much different than those who have, say, mild to moderate dementia symptoms.
So, to properly identify the level of care you will need, write down any illnesses or conditions that you have as well as the specific items and tasks that you think you will need assistance with. Then you’re ready to go to the next step.
2. In-Home Care – Choose Your Services and Determine Their Frequency
Based on your personal needs, choose the type of in-home assistive care you will require. Some common ones include:
- meal preparation and food shopping
- cleaning, laundry, gardening, trash removal
- bathing and grooming
In short, what you need may just be basic personal care.
Choosing a care provider that works closely with hospitals will be more ideal as it greatly assist in the communication department. Your carer will be able to better understand the type of assistance you need at home.
So yes, after examining your health conditions, choose the services that will help you in the various tasks and aspects of your life. Also, determine how often you will need them to assist you.
3. Make Necessary Safety Modifications to the Home Environment
This is a crucial part in ensuring the success of independent living at home for seniors. Your home has to be a safe, functional and healthy living environment and by that, removing any hazardous items is a must.
Rugs, unnecessary cords, pet beds etc. will have to go. You want to create a space that have clear pathways and plenty of space to walk in without bumping into anything, especially in the rooms you spend a lot of time in.
So remove any unnecessary furniture and move the things that you will be using frequently to within easy reach. Don’t put them in the top cupboard where you will need to climb on things or strain yourself to reach them.
If your house has two levels, it is time to move your bedroom downstairs on the ground level. You may want to switch out door handles and faucets to levered ones, as well as change the hardware on drawers, cabinets and doors to ensure they are easy to open. This will make a huge difference if you experience frailty or arthritis down the road.
Other must-do include:
- adding traction slips or non-skid tape on bathroom floors, bathtubs and shower stalls
- install extra lighting to increase visibility and decrease the risk of falling
- install grab bars in the bathroom, hallway, next to your bed
In addition, widening doorways and installing wheelchair ramps will increase independence if you are using a wheelchair.
4. Learn and Associate Yourself with Technology
Aging is not an excuse to stop learning.
If you haven’t already associate yourself with modern technology, i.e. use a smartphone at the very least, it is time to learn. Much more than just a medium to chat and email, a smartphone can very much be a lifesaving avenue in certain circumstances.
For one, connecting you instantly to hospitals by pressing a quick key or providing GPS technology to pinpoint your location in the case of an emergency or accident.
Voice-activated devices will be greatly helpful for seniors with mobility issues, while the ability to switch to larger fonts on tablets and smartphones will make reading easier for the deteriorating eyes.
5. Maintain A Healthy Diet
You all should know this, that a healthy diet can help prevent common health problems including heart disease and diabetes – the two common enemies among seniors.
Change your diet to be more fish-centred and cut out saturated fat (meat and dairy) and processed food as the latter is high in sodium. Reducing your sodium intake and saturated fat will lower your blood pressure, in turn, decrease risk of heart disease.
6. Have A Regular Exercise Routine
You’ve probably heard this a million times since you were young, but exercise really is one of the best ways to stay healthy.
Having a regular routine set as you age is more important now than ever to ensure you have the ability to continue living independently at home when you are old. Because when you are healthy, you can do a lot of things without relying on anybody – and that’s essential in ensuring your independent living for as long as you want.
7. Stay Active and Social
Many seniors feel lonely and isolated. This is actually the cause of a lot of health issues which eventually lead to them losing their freedom to live independently at home.
So find programs in your area to join, keep your social circle active and don’t just stay at home. Meet up with friends, neighbours and family regularly – stay active.
8. Invest in Basic Medical Safety Items
Medical alert items are essential when you get older. Apart from fostering an increased level of independence and self-reliance, they also provide peace of mind for your family members. Just a button away and you’ll be connected instantly to a hospital/response center if there is an emergency or injury.
Also, the in-built GPS system will allow family members to track your location while those with a medical monitoring software will indicate your medical status while sending out alarm notifications should there be any anomaly detected.
9. Review Your Medications
Often, seniors take multiple medications due to their old age. Sometimes, this may not be necessary – either the body doesn’t need it or some medications may overlap in the sense that they are for the same condition. There can even be adverse reactions if certain medications are taken together so it’s worthwhile to ask your health care provider to review your medications.
10. Readjust Your Mindset
You know how the saying goes, it’s all about the mind. So remove any pre-assumption or myths regarding aging, that you are getting worthless and meaningless just because you are getting old. Nonsense.
Depression is not part of the aging package, neither is weakness, frailty and dependence. Believe you have every reason to age well at home, and the rest will follow.
A healthy mind, a healthy life. Keep that in mind, always.