Home is where the heart is, and it's often where seniors want to stay. But six out of 10 falls happen at home, and you can't always be there to handle meal prep and keep your loved one company. Keep the person happy at home using a combination of safety-proofing and outside help.
Safety-Proof the Place
Slips and falls can be catastrophic for aging and disabled people. Prevent them using by using basic items sold at home improvement stores.
Walk through the entire home, inside and out, to look for slippery surfaces/sidewalks and other falling hazards. Remove throw rugs and replace them with non-slip rugs. Clear electrical cords, decorative objects and pet beds away from pathways.
Place non-slip mats or strips on shower and bathroom floors to reduce the risks of slipping or falling. Install grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet so the person can get up and down without falling.
Install safety railings on both sides of each staircase and make sure any carpeting is firmly secured to the stairs. If the home includes outdoor stairs, they can become slippery in rain or snow. Add strips of non-slip tread tape to the stairs or replace the paint on the steps with a mixture of paint and sand. It creates a gritty texture that reduces slipperiness.
Even if your loved one knows nothing about the latest gadgets, technology can help you keep them safe. Automatic pill dispensers are a great way to handle medication management for people with memory impairment or dementia. You can install temperature control devices on faucets and stovetops to prevent burns. If the person is willing, you can even hire a security company to install sensors and cameras that allow you to monitor movement in the house.
Plan for Meals
A person who's having a hard time getting around may find it's easier to skip meals or eat unhealthy high-salt foods rather than cooking healthy meals. That's especially troubling if the person has diabetes, high blood pressure or another condition that's affected by dietary factors.
If you're in the area, you can cook big batches of healthy foods and package them into individual servings. Make foods that can be frozen and easily heated and deliver a week's supply each weekend. This requires lots of work for you, but it may be worthwhile if the person needs to follow a low-sugar or high-calorie diet.
If that's not feasible, you may be able to hire a part-time caregiver to prepare the person's meals or arrange for a food-delivery system or a group like Meals on Wheels to drop off prepared meals. Finally, you can contact a senior community center in the person's area to ask about community meal programs open to seniors.
No amount of non-slip mats and frozen meals can alleviate the isolation and loneliness that aging or disabled people often feel. And if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer's disease, it's crucial that someone watch over them every day.
The person's health insurance carrier, Medicaid or Medicare may cover the expense of hiring a home health aide. An aide can help with bathing, eating and medication reminders as well as keeping the person from becoming lonely. A caregiver can also do things like encourage the person to get some exercise and drink enough to prevent dehydration.
If your loved one doesn't need that level of care, ask local senior centers for information about day programs. You may be able to arrange for the person to attend art classes, organized card games or other daily activities that allow for socialization.
Part of caring for your loved one at home is recognizing when that's no longer possible. Contact Benchmark Senior Living to talk about options for when that day arrives.
This information is offered for general educational and informational purposes. It is not intended to be medical or other expert advice, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate professionals.