Do you have a relative who is planning to or who has already moved into a Senior Apartment, a Continuing Care Retirement Community or Assisted Living setting? Are they planning to stay in the family home? Or are they moving in with you? I would like to suggest that you take a look around their living space with an eye towards how you can help them function at their best for as long as possible.
The following list includes ideas that may make life easier for your loved one. Many of these items are available at Home Depot, Lowes, Target and Radio Shack. Discount Medical Supplies (see Marketplace), also has good prices on a wide range or personal health and daily living supplies.
In the bathroom:
1. Grab bars by the toilet and in the shower are very important. Non skid flooring or a rubber mat in the shower are also essential
1. Check to be sure there is adequate storage, hooks and/or shelving space to make it easy to reach toiletries, hygiene products, towels and clothing . Tall but narrow book shelves, corner shelves, over the door hooks and over the toilet shelving may be useful.
2.Shower chairs and handheld showers make bathing safer. Discount Medical Supplies , shown in my marketplace , has examples of some of these products.
In the closet:
1. Consider helping your relative pare down and organize their wardrobe( and other possessions) . As people become more frail, they may lose the energy, motivation or cognitive ability to make wardrobe decisions . A closet packed with ill-fitting , out of season, or excess clothing can become very problematic when there is limited space. Watch them or have an occupational therapist assess them as they reach into the closet to retrieve their clothing. Can they reach what they wear most often? Do they have the balance to reach up or bend down for items? Would they benefit from having a reacher, having the rods or shelving adjusted or just having their clothing arranged for easier use?
2. Is there adequate lighting in or near the closet? If not, press-on battery operated lights will make the contents of the closet easier to see.
In the bedroom:
1. A wide variety of easily installed partial bed rails and handles are available to make getting in and out of bed safer and easier .
2. Be sure that the bedroom (and entire apartment) is well lit. Some senior apartments only have overhead lights. Having lamps and nightlights placed by beds and chairs for safety and functioning is essential.
1.Having one or more firm but comfortable armchairs makes getting up and down easier.
2.Update and simplify a phone book with all of your family member’s important contact information.
3. Check to see if they can use their phone. Specialized phones which help people with low vision, decreased hearing and memory impairment are all available. Small cell phones may be very difficult for an older person to see, hear and use.
4.Consider whether labels, calendars or written reminders would be helpful for organizing and remembering appointments , medications , and household tasks.
5.Multiple and adequate surfaces, drawers and trays are helpful in keeping papers, pens, address books, glasses, dentures, crosswords, books , hearing aides, and sundries within easy reach.
6. Investigate and procure personal medical alert systems for anyone who will be alone in their apartment or home for parts of the day.
This list is not intended to be all-inclusive but I hope that you will find some ideas that can help your family member live with maximum safety, independence and success. If you have any great ideas to share with our readers, please add in a comment below!
If you have concerns about the safety and functioning of your loved one in their new home, seek out a functional assessment which can often be prescribed by a physician and carried out by rehabilitation professionals.
Until next time,