Helping the Elderly Stay in Their Own Homes

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

 

Elderly-Friendly Homes Help Seniors Live Independent Lives 
It’s not uncommon to hear of seniors being moved into care facilities because they are no longer able to care for themselves in their own homes.  The move may be prompted by a fall or other debilitating incident.  Often, it precedes a rapid health decline that can be further sped along by the elder feeling that he has not only lost his familiar surroundings, but sense of independence and belonging as well.  Sometimes, the move truly is unavoidable, but there are other times when certain steps can be taken to ensure that the elder is able to maintain his autonomy and safely remain in his own home.  Following are some ideas for creating an elder-friendly home:
Safety Supports
Install carpet to prevent slips and provide a softer landing in the event of a fall.
Move bedrooms to the main floor to avoid stairs or install chair lifts if moving the bedroom is not an option.  
Move electrical outlets up to waist level.
Install railings in hallways 
Consider a walk-in tub with a built in shower.  If a walk-in tub is cost-prohibitive, purchase a tub seat and install tub bars and a hand-held shower spray. 
Install a taller toilet or a toilet lift kit with safety handles
Install lift kits on beds and chairs to make them easier to get in and out of.
Technological Supports
Purchase personal life-line sensors that can be worn like jewelry.  They monitor vital signs and have built in fall-detection technology that triggers an alarm and connects to live emergency services when the wearer is in trouble.  
Install an all-inclusive alarm system that automatically connects to emergency services – not only when there is an intruder, but when the fire or carbon dioxide detectors are tripped.  Some systems even offer a personal life-line monitor option like those outlined above.
Where feasible, replace outdated appliances with newer versions that have built-in timers that shut off automatically.  
If hearing is an issue, install flashing light alerts for fire alarms, carbon dioxide detectors, and even phones.  
Purchase big button remote controls and telephones.
Social Supports
Hire a service to keep walks free of snow and ice, and yards manicured.
Set up weekly housekeeping services.   
Arrange to have groceries delivered and/or engage a meal delivery service 
Arrange home care.  Many providers offer flexible care with frequency that is tailored to the individual and services that include medical support and help with bathing and personal hygiene.
Remember, the best time to implement these steps is before they are fully necessary.  If you are worried about the costs of creating an elderly-friendly home, keep in mind that there are numerous financial supports available through both the Canadian Government and various non-profit organizations.  Check out http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/audiences/seniors/index.shtml for more information on some of the services currently available.

It’s not uncommon to hear of seniors being moved into care facilities because they are no longer able to care for themselves in their own homes.  The move may be prompted by a fall or other debilitating incident.  Often, it precedes a rapid health decline that can be further sped along by the elder feeling that he has not only lost his familiar surroundings, but sense of independence and belonging as well.  Sometimes, the move truly is unavoidable, but there are other times when certain steps can be taken to ensure that the elder is able to maintain his autonomy and safely remain in his own home.  Following are some ideas for creating an elder-friendly home.

 

 

Safety Supports

  • Install carpet to prevent slips and provide a softer landing in the event of a fall.
  • Move bedrooms to the main floor to avoid stairs, or install chair lifts if moving the bedroom is not an option.  
  • Move electrical outlets up to waist level.
  • Install railings in hallways. 
  • Consider a walk-in tub with a built in shower.  If a walk-in tub is cost-prohibitive, purchase a tub seat and install tub bars and a hand-held shower spray. 
  • Install a taller toilet or a toilet lift kit with safety handles.
  • Install lift kits on beds and chairs to make them easier to get in and out of.

Technological Supports

  • Purchase personal life-line sensors that can be worn like jewelry.  They monitor vital signs and have built in fall-detection technology that triggers an alarm and connects to live emergency services when the wearer is in trouble.  
  • Install an all-inclusive alarm system that automatically connects to emergency services – not only when there is an intruder, but when the fire or carbon dioxide detectors are tripped.  Some systems even offer a personal life-line monitor option like those outlined above.
  • Where feasible, replace outdated appliances with newer versions that have built-in timers that shut off automatically.  
  • If hearing is an issue, install flashing light alerts for fire alarms, carbon dioxide detectors, and even phones.  
  • Purchase big button remote controls and telephones.

Social Supports

  • Hire a service to keep walks free of snow and ice, and yards manicured.
  • Set up weekly housekeeping services.   
  • Arrange to have groceries delivered and/or engage a meal delivery service. 
  • Consider getting a pet that can provide companionship and a reason to stay active.
  • Arrange home care.  Many providers offer flexible care with frequency that is tailored to the individual and services that include medical support and help with bathing and personal hygiene.

Remember, the best time to implement these steps is before they are fully necessary.  Start early with a respectful conversation that takes into account the senior's thoughts and needs.  If you are worried about the costs of creating an elderly-friendly home, keep in mind that there are numerous financial supports available through both the Canadian Government and various non-profit organizations.  Check out http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/audiences/seniors/index.shtml for more information on some of the services currently available.

Editor's Note:  This article was orignially published August 6, 2014, and has been updated for content and relevancy.

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