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.

Encourage Exercise

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).

Final Thoughts

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.

According to theMayo Clinic, one in three adults in the United States provides care on an informal basis for family members who are either ill, injured, disabled, or aging. These caregivers often experience excess stress, which can lead to depression, social isolation, financial difficulties, and burnout.

Though I absolutely loved my grandmother, I still went through so many challenges when I was taking care of her before she passed away, and I learned a lot along the way, so I thought I would share some tips with you.

#1 Ask for Help

At some point, you may need additional help as you balance your caregiver role with other areas of your life. Fortunately, there are several options that may provide you with the help you need.

  • Community Resources – Many communities have resources that you may benefit from. These include everything from support groups for specific illnesses to meal delivery and housekeeping services. Contact yourArea Agency on Aging (AAA) for more information on services available in your community.
  • Adult Day Programs – If your parent is able to travel outside the home, you may consider an adult day program, which can provide your loved one with valuable social experiences while giving you a break.
  • In-Home Respite Care – If you can afford it, you could arrange for in-home respite care services, which would involve having someone come in to provide care when you are not at home for your parent (things come up!).
  • Other Family Members –  It’s a good idea to ask for help from other family members; if you can. You could enlist someone to step in so you can have the time you need to get things done and take care of yourself.

#2 Stay Connected to Friends and Family

It is important to stay connected to your friends and other family members when you are the primary caregiver for your parent. When I was taking care of my grandmother, I made sure to have lunch with my friends at least once a week (sometimes it could be twice). Spending time with my friends helped keep me connected and provided a nice break for me.

#3 Find a Schedule That Works

It is crucial that you and your parent have clear expectations about what your role should be. You might decide to have a schedule for daily activities and an agreement about the amount of time you will provide care. With that said, it is also important to be flexible. You never know when something unexpected may happen.

#4 Talk with Other Caregivers

Fellow caregivers can be a great resource for you, and the relationships you build can be a source of support for one another. There may be times when you need to talk with someone about what you are going through, and other times, you may just want to vent. If you share your frustrations with your loved one, it may make them feel like a burden. That is not productive, and it helps no one, but talking with other caregivers can provide you with a sounding board when you need one. If you don’t know any other caregivers, I suggest you find a local support group to meet some or even go online for a few Facebook communities.

#5 Take Care of Yourself

When you are busy taking care of your parent, grandparent, or another family member, it can be easy to neglect your own needs. It is absolutely necessary for your own well-being that you take time for yourself. Relax, read a book, get a pedicure, go for a walk, have lunch with friends, or find a yoga class. Even something as simple as taking a few minutes to meditate each day can help reduce stress.

This tip helped me through some really tough times when I was too focused on caring for my grandmother that I forgot to think about my own well-being.

#6 Consider Taking a Break from Work

If you work outside the home in addition to being a caregiver, you may want to consider taking a temporary leave of absence from your job. The federalFamily and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows covered employees to take up to 12 weeks off per year to take care of relatives. While this leave is unpaid, it protects you from being terminated from your job while you are taking care of your loved one.

Most family caregivers are caregivers purely out of love, and there is a great deal of sacrifice for many of these family members. Even if you don’t hear it every day, just remember that what you are doing is important, and you are appreciated and valued by the person you are caring for and by other family members who are unable to do what you are doing. Keeping these tips in mind may help you have a less stressful and more fulfilling experience as you care for someone you love.