Maintaining senior independence is a goal shared by seniors, family members, and medical professionals. In a recent article, Forbes writes that “experts on the ground have discovered that it is more often the little things, like being able to use kitchen utensils and navigate steps, that end up limiting [seniors'] ability to remain independent.” While little things can be aggravating, they usually have solutions. Let’s look at five ways to ease the burden and keep you living at home independently.
If you’re living alone in your four-bedroom, two-story home on an acre of land, you’ve got your hands full with day-to-day upkeep and maintenance. In the Forbes article, Sarah Szanton, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, says, “We see housing as a part of healthcare. What one can do is a function of where one lives.” Perhaps now is the time to downsize to a smaller one-story home with less upkeep.
2. “Seniorize” Your Home
Without proper safety precautions, kitchens and bathrooms can be accidents waiting to happen for anyone in the home. Poor lighting can cause mishaps that wouldn’t otherwise happen. Unsecured area rug corners can cause avoidable trips and falls. Seniors might find it easier to “bathe” at the bathroom sink rather than climbing in and out of the tub. All of these problems have easy and relatively inexpensive solutions. KCET provides a complete checklist for “seniorizing” your home, which includes the very same things that an occupational therapist would look for on a tour of your home.
3. Get By with a Little Help from Your Friends
Senior independence shouldn’t depend on a set of car keys. Prudent seniors with poor vision might hang up their keys long before they’re ready to give up their independence. Still, suburban seniors need to get out to buy groceries, fill prescriptions, shop for clothes, etc. Neighbors, friends, and family can pitch in, but you’ll also want to find a driver/errand helper for backup. A good way to find a reliable helper is through word of mouth.
4. In-Home Service Providers
An injury can cause sudden, if temporary, disability. Without in-home care, your only option is often rehab. Other seniors and caregivers can prematurely seek expensive assisted-living options, but home care offers an approach that lets you retain your independence. Helpguide recommends hiring a range of service providers to keep you living independently at home if that’s your goal. Today’s home care services allow you the freedom to age in place while saving money.
5. Technology Is Your Friend
According to Healthline, technology can extend senior independence by ensuring your safety while you live independently: “For example, personal medical alert systems allow seniors to summon help quickly should they fall or need medical attention.” Wireless sensors can detect a fall, and smartphones can deliver appointment and medication reminders. And if you are still active — or want to be — some solutions, like Philips Lifeline GoSafe, work both inside and outside the home.*
You worked hard your whole life, and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of those labors. The right environment, in-home care as needed, and technology can help you maintain senior independence and live comfortably the way you want while minimizing worry for your loved ones — a win-win for everyone.