By June Duncan of Rise Up for Caregivers
Quality of life matters at any age. If you’re a caregiver for a senior, you probably see that your loved one could benefit from improvement but you may not be sure how to help. You may even harbor concerns for your loved one’s safety. Here are some suggestions to help provide the best living environment and lifestyle for your beloved senior.
Safety first: Making small modifications to your senior loved one’s home can reduce risks of falls and other safety concerns. Here are some simple things experts recommend installing to help keep your senior safe:
- Safety bars and hand-holds in the bathroom around showers, tubs and toilets
- Motion-activated lighting
- A home security system
- Peepholes in entry doors
Technology: Technology offers many ways to help seniors stay more active and independent. The professionals at LifeHack suggest using electronic heart monitors, medication reminders, and alert systems. Cell phones and applications such as Skype and FaceTime can help you keep in touch from far away.
Out and about.
Exercise: Staying active is good for people of all ages. Exercise can improve mental outlook and well-being. It also can facilitate better brain function and reduce a number of health risks. The CDC offers some great guidelines for seniors, recommending both aerobic and strength activities.
Transportation: Many seniors suffer occasional issues from medications or ailments which prevent driving, and some seniors reach the point that driving is no longer an option at all. The AARP offers these recommendations as alternatives to driving:
- Friends and family can volunteer to drive or you could pay them a nominal fee
- Senior organizations and faith organizations often offer transportation services
- Public transportation, taxis, and shuttle services
- Private car services can be hired if there is an ongoing need
A note of concern. AgingCare points out that ending the era of driving oneself is pivotal for seniors. Giving up driving can mean loss of independence, routine, and a sense of identity. Seniors sometimes keep driving in spite of hearing or vision loss, or bouts of confusion. Many seniors don’t realize there are options available and continue to drive, even when their ability is declining. In fact, fatal driving accidents are predicted to triple by the year 2030. It’s imperative to intervene if your senior shouldn’t be driving due to declining health or cognitive ability. Be persistent and creative in seeking solutions.
Togetherness. Connecting is important for mental health. According to some experts, seniors who are lonely are at a higher risk for dementia and live shorter lives. Make sure your loved one still has a social life. Here are some suggestions:
- Stay involved with faith organizations
- Find a hobby your senior can enjoy
- Encourage attendance at parties and family events, such as showers, graduations, birthdays and holidays
- Volunteer at charities and community organizations
- Arrange for family or friends to take your senior to lunch or visit over a cup of coffee
- Get involved with senior centers
- Arrange transportation for activities if your senior is no longer driving
Everyone feels better if they feel needed. Giving your senior tasks can help improve their mood and outlook. Ask for help with things still within your loved one’s scope of ability, such as folding laundry, preparing meals, running errands together, making to-do lists and shopping lists, sorting mail and organizing drawers.
Better quality of life
Take steps to improve life for your senior. Reduce risks and safety concerns. Use technological advances for support and to stay in touch. Help your loved one with getting out and about, and encourage your senior to stay involved. Through these simple measures, you can promote a better everyday life for your senior.