There are some who believe that as you age you accept that your independence diminishes. This includes an inability to continue to live at home. Our experience at Hello Mobility is that most seniors would rather stay in the comfort of their own homes than go anywhere else. With the right help, we are confident that now more than ever this can be a reality!
With the number of resources, programs, and services available to help we think that being an independent senior has never been easier. If you or your loved one takes advantage of the opportunities around them and does not allow their age to define what they can and cannot do, the sky is the limit. A word of caution though! It really is important to know their limits and encourage them to act rationally when choosing to remain at home. There is no doubt that choosing to live independently can be challenging so they need to be smart and safe. With the right planning though, it is possible!
There are many things to consider when choosing to remain independent at home. One of the most important of these is to ensure that the home is both safe and accessible.
Creating a safe home for our aging family members
There are lots of different ways that you can make a home safer. If you are not sure where to start, this checklist should be of some value to you. It covers the basics and gives you a starting point:
Medical alert system
There are many options in the marketplace. Our suggestion is to talk to people who have them or to your OT or Doctor. Depending on the type of system you choose, you will either be connected to a family member, carer, or directly to the emergency services.
The systems are very sophisticated and with just the press of a button, you can know that help is on the way.
Some have devices that the person has on their person. And it may even include a fall-detection feature. We recommend that you do some research to see what your needs are and what they are likely to be in the future. It may be that a device that can be on your person, as well as connected to a landline is the best option. There are many great systems out there. It is important to understand all the product offerings before choosing the one that is right for you or your family member.
Home Health Aids
Choosing to remain at home as an independent senior does not come without its challenges but these are not insurmountable. It may be that you want to consider hiring a home healthcare aide who can visit a few times a week. This is especially great for those seniors who are living alone. There are lots of companies around that will send someone into the home who can assist. They can help with healthcare needs, medication, nutrition, and check-ups. Speak to your doctor. With the NDIS scheme so accessible it may be that your loved one qualifies for assistance under this scheme.
They can offer non-medical assistance. Help with in regard to bathing, grooming, cooking, cleaning, and general companionship if that is appropriate. The best starting point would be your doctor. They can help you with the paperwork and their recommendations.
Make the home safe
Some great tips on making the home secure are listed below:
- moving or securing carpets and loose cords to the floor
- installing lights in dark areas of the home with easy-to-access switches
- Installing automatic lights outside will ensure that if they do go outside the chances of a fall are reduced
- securing all railings inside and out
- installing assistance rails in bathrooms and anywhere else they are needed
- installing a chair lift when necessary, can make a massive difference to the independence of your loved one
- moving heavy items to waist height shelves
- moving frequently used items to lower shelves where they are more easily accessible
- consider a home security system
Encourage involvement with groups
It is important for any senior living independently to remain active. This includes taking the time to do things outside of the home when possible. Help them to explore their interests and find fun ways to spend their time. Often seniors are not sure what interests them anymore. Encourage them to try new things and take the time to figure out what they get enjoyment from.
They may decide to start with a clean slate and learn something new. They may tinker with playing a new instrument like the guitar. Or even trying something completely different like steel drums is not unusual. They may choose to take an art class to learn how to paint or draw. Some will study a foreign language. Sign up for a cooking class and learn some yummy new recipes. Consider doing some of these activities with friends and family to stay connected and strengthen your relationships.
You can read, write, travel someplace new, or join an exercise class like water aerobics. Go to a museum or become a tour guide at one. If you have grandchildren, spend some time with them by going to their extracurricular events to support them.
Other ways that some seniors choose to spend their time involve working in the community. Some of the options where their help is needed include:
- becoming a mentor for a youth program
- volunteering locally at an opp shop
- helping out at a local library
Taking care of mental and emotional health
At any age, it is important to take care of one’s mental and emotional health.
The World Health Organization, recently did some research on mental health issues in the over 60s. They suggest that approximately 20% of adults over the age of 60 deal with some form of mental or neurological disorder. For adults 60 and over, depression affects about 7% of the population, and anxiety disorders affect 3.8%. It is OK to experience a need for behavioural health treatment, and odds are you are not alone. If this is something that your senior could benefit from please don’t hesitate in reaching out for help.
Know your resources
There are so many options on who to turn to that some find that in itself overwhelming. We work with Occupational Therapists daily and our suggestion is to hook up with one yourself. You can access these amazing people via your doctor or specialist. Their sole purpose is to help you achieve your goals. So, if that is independent living, they may bring you along to a showroom like ours to show you how that can be achieved.
If you are interested in finding out more about the variety of scooters, wheelchairs, and general living aids that we have available please get in touch. You can email us here or telephone us on 07 3350 5522. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable consultants are on hand to help guide and assist you.