Whenever you care for a senior loved one, you quickly figure out how difficult this can be. You have to deal with the fact that your loved one may feel helpless, but also not really want your help. This means you need to be careful about what you say, besides what you do. Fortunately, as time passes, things tend to become easier and everyone involved, both you and the senior you care for, get used to the situation.
When I first started caring for my grandma, one of the most difficult parts was getting her to accept my help. She was a proud woman and it took a long time for her to accept me as her caregiver, not just her granddaughter. As family members, I feel like this is something that we all have to deal with sooner or later when we are caring for another family member. Fortunately, with patience and conversation, things became simpler and simpler as time passed.
One of the most important things to do when you care for a senior is to make the home as safe as possible. This is possible in various ways and what you choose will depend on the condition of the loved one and the conditions or illnesses he/she suffers from. With this in mind, here are some tips that will help you keep the home safe for them.
Assist With Mobility
Mobility is highly important for every single person. Unfortunately, as we age, moving around a home becomes increasingly difficult. The good news is you can always make some small changes that will help much more than initially imagined. Some examples include:
- Adding a bench close to the front door so the senior can place bags when going shopping. He/she no longer needs to bend to put the bags down.
- Encouraging the senior to wear accurately-fitted shoes that have sturdy soles and lower heels.
- Adding a stairlift if the home has an upper floor.
Obviously, you can always make some more drastic changes, whenever needed. Make it easy for the senior to move around the home and he/she instantly becomes more confident!
Make The Bathroom Safer
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the emergency room every because of injuries that happen in a bathroom. Over a third of the injuries happen while showering or bathing. Seniors are highly vulnerable, with over 50% of their injuries happening in a bathroom. Though these injuries might not be fatal, they are still very dangerous.
In order to make the bathroom safer, consider these suggestions:
- Install grab bars outside and inside the shower/bathtub and close to the bathtub.
- Place a low stool or create an area where the senior can sit when grooming.
- Add non-slip rubber mats wherever the area is slippery, like next to the shower, inside it and right in front of a sink.
- Replace the bathtub with a quality walk-in shower or tub.
Make The Outdoors Safer
So many senior falls happen outside. This is why you want to be sure that the driveway, the porch, the sidewalk, and the home entrance do not present hazards for the senior you love.
As a very simple example, if there are some cracks present on the sidewalk or a hose was left out, a senior could slip and fall. This is why you need to take care of these hazards as soon as they are noticed. Also, remember that wood covered porches and decks can be highly slippery if weather conditions are wet. Rubber mats can do wonders in such a scenario.
Provide Easy Access To Windows and Doors
When the senior you care for has arthritis, it can be difficult for him/her to perform really simple tasks like opening windows or turning doorknobs. This is why you need to carefully choose what hardware is installed around doors and windows. As an example, the lever-style door handle is much better than the round one.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, it is a really good idea for seniors to exercise. This improves coordination, balance, strengthens the supporting muscles and reduces the possibility of falling. It is difficult to exercise when mobility issues make it tough to move. This is why you need to consider just the exercises that are suitable for the senior you care of. The most common examples of exercises that help are Tai Chi, bicycling, walking, climbing stairs, yoga and even weight training (if suitable).
Keeping the home safe for a senior loved one is always difficult, especially during the first few months. You need to be careful and understanding and adapt to what happens while you take care of your loved one. Always make sure you keep conversations open with your loved one and take the necessary steps to fix every problem as soon as it is noticed.