An AARP survey showed that 75% of adults 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. If your parent or loved one is one of them, there are a few key things you can do to help them remain independent in their homes for as long as possible. Keep reading to learn how.
Outfit the home
The risk of falling is one of the major issues seniors face staying in their home as they age. Falls are a major cause of hospitalization, and the risk only increases with age. Evaluating your parent or loved one’s home and making adjustments is the first thing you can do to help them age in place safely.
At the very least, remove trip hazards such as clutter or loose area rugs. If you want to take a more proactive approach, there are some home modifications you can make that will help your parent stay safe and healthy in the future. Installing grab bars and handrails and purchasing a raised toilet seat and a shower seat are a few things you can do to outfit the home for aging in place. Evaluating the lighting situation will also help. Illuminate well-trafficked areas and place lamps by the bedside in case your parent needs to get up in the night.
You should also factor in your loved one’s medical conditions when thinking about home modifications. For instance, those who suffer from arthritis often benefit from special products to prevent pain, and if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, certain technology like door sensors and stove monitors can help keep them safe. Check out this article detailing technology that can help your parent age in place.
Social contact is incredibly important for seniors, but as they age it can become more difficult. If you want to help your parent age in place well, prioritizing social contact and communication is paramount. Without it, they can feel isolated and lonely, and it can even lead to depression and medical problems.
There are a few ways to facilitate communication and social contact. As the family caregiver, you can make a plan to reach out to your parent or loved one on a regular basis. Set a reminder on your phone or make a standing weekly “date” to spend time with them. If you are unable to do this regularly, consider recruiting other family members or neighbors to help or hire a caregiver for this companionship (we’ll discuss this further in a later section).
Socialization with peers is also important. Encourage your parent to stay active in church or community groups and make regular plans with friends or neighbors. Even if your parent isn’t able to leave their home, there are still ways to help them socialize. Teaching them some technology basics like social media and video calling can help them stay in touch with family and friends. For a more creative solution, get your parent a smart speaker that can respond to prompts can help them feel less lonely at home.
Plan for activities
As your parent ages, there will still be many “to-dos” like errands and appointments. Depending on your parent’s abilities, you may need to consider arranging transportation for these events. Besides the routine appointments, there are other activities that will promote healthy aging like socialization, exercise, and hobbies. According to the National Institute on Aging, older people with an active lifestyle:
- Are less likely to develop certain diseases.
- Have a longer lifespan.
- Are happier and less depressed.
- Are better prepared to cope with loss.
- May be able to improve their thinking abilities.
There are many ways to help your parent or loved one stay active physically, mentally, and socially. You can start by tapping into what they already like to do. Perhaps they used to have hobbies when they were younger, or maybe they have a passion that they haven’t pursued. Encourage them to take a class, join a club, get more involved at the senior center, volunteer, or even join an online group dedicated to one of their interests.
Helping your parent stay active may take more time and effort than you can give. If that’s the case, consider the next recommendation for helping your parent age well in place – form a care team.
Form a care team
It’s important to recognize that you don’t have to do all of this on your own. It’s likely you have other family members, friends, neighbors, and other community members who are willing to help but just need to be asked. Forming a care team made up of others who want to see your parent stay healthy and happy is a great way to meet their needs without causing burnout for you as the family caregiver.
Your care team can help with transportation, meal prep, socialization, and more. And it doesn’t take any special skills other than compassion! Talk with those who think might be willing to help and see what they feel they can contribute. With some organization, your parent or loved one will have everything they need to age well in their home.
If your care team isn’t able to meet all of your parent’s needs, consider bringing in a professional caregiver to help. An in-home caregiver can help prevent falls, provide companionship, and help your loved one stay physically and mentally active. They can also assist with the activities of daily life like grooming that may become more challenging as your parent ages. A professional caregiver can be a wonderful and valuable addition to your care team.
It’s very possible for seniors to age in place and stay happy and healthy, but it takes some work to make it happen. Ensuring their environment is safe, keeping the lines of communication open, and making a plan to keep them active are all important. And bringing in others to help can make the effort even more successful.
Want to learn more about how a professional caregiver can help? We have many resources here on our website, and we’d love to connect with you to learn more about your situation and see if we’d be a fit. Schedule a time for a client service specialist to give you a call today.