As our elders age, there is one big question to which the answer is different for everyone: Do we stay in our home and give “Aging in Place” a go or do we move?
For my seniors, they have decided to age in place for the time being. Although that may change in the future for now we are working through the various scenarios that arise and we have discovered that we have needed some tools to help with this! To save all of you some time and energy researching some of the various products, we put together a list of items you may want to consider if you too have seniors aging in place.
Hospice Questions Answered
The topic of Hospice Care came up at recent visit to the Dr’s office with one of our elders. We had some questions!
Am I Really a Caregiver?
Most people don’t identify themselves as a caregiver. Rather, they think of themselves as a daughter, a son, a parent, a spouse, a grandparent, or a grandchild. The things you do for others and the responsibilities that you shoulder are done out of love and with love. This is definitely how I saw myself until a family medical crisis thrust me into a more formal role with an official name – “Family Caregiver”.
Firstly, let’s tackle a big one - stability
For the love of everything good we do NOT want our elders falling down if we can help it! If your elder only needs a little assistance with their balance, then something such as this Simple Walking Stick will do the trick. My elders have used ones like this successfully in the past.
However, there are times when this style hasn’t been quite enough support. If they are tired or fighting an illness we discovered that they needed to use something that offered a bit more support as their bodies just felt a bit weaker. This 4-legged cane provided the extra support without going “all the way to the walker”.
Inevitably, we knew the day would come that they would need even more support and alas, that day has come. We are now at the phase of needing the full-fledged support of a walker. Not everyday, but boy oh boy when those days are needed it is important that you have the right tool for the job. While researching walkers I discovered that the world of walkers has changed drastically. Did you know they make upright walkers now?? What a magnificent idea!
There of course is the classic 4-wheel walker that we are all familiar with but there is also a more luxury version of this now too – the 4-wheeled walker with a wide seat back.
The other model that was revolutionary (well….at least to me) was the 3-wheeled walker. This model is a little lighter and great for maneuvering around smaller spaces and outdoors if your elder wants to do a little “off-road” action!
COMFORT AT HOME
Once they get done being out and about in the world they need a soft place to land and we found that a Lift Chair was a great addition to their living room. Not only is it extremely comfortable, but we discovered that during those times that they aren’t feeling so great, it’s helpful to have a little assistance getting up. The other way that my elders use their chair is at night time. They both have had times where they needed to be a little more upright, were restless or just unable to sleep – off to the living room and their beloved lift chair they go. Being able to recline as far they want with the aid of a remote control allows them to still get a decent night’s rest.
Speaking of night time….there is hardly a single one of us that can go through an entire night and not have to make a trip to the bathroom. That need increases with age – unfortunately your ability to get there quickly decreases at the same time. No FAIR! We found that we needed to put some things in place to make this easier to manage. For the elder men in our lives this handheld urinal can be quite handy. For the elder women they may need to use something more like the bedside commode. If your elders are still trying to make the race to the bathroom please do them a favor and make sure their path is well lit. The home health care nurses recommended these installing these motion activated LED light strips.
An item that my mother-in-law uses on the daily while sitting in her comfort lift chair is her hand held magnifier w/ LED lights. She didn’t want the bigger tabletop foldable magnifier but I thought that one looked even better than the one she decided on.
dangers lurk in a familiar place
The bathroom can be a dangerous place for an elder. Take a look around and evaluate their situation. For my elders we actually replaced their entire toilet with a comfort height toilet. It’s just easier for them to get up and down from. If you aren’t ready to do any bathroom remodeling, simply putting in a raised toilet seat will do the trick quite nicely. They even make some risers with handles to make the “journey” even easier. Some elders will need the added support of safety rails too. It seems weird but having them “practice” and show you the ease in which they can get up and down will help you assess what tools will best fit their needs.
If you’re lucky, your elder still desires to shower or bathe (not all of them do – ha!). However, whether they are compliant or not they still need to get clean. Traditional bathtubs are almost impossible for many elders to navigate. They simply can’t get up and over the side of it very effectively and once again – we need to keep our elders UPRIGHT! If they do not want to modify their bathrooms to install a walk-in shower, you can modify a traditional tub using a bathtub cutout kit. Once inside that shower they often are unable to stand for long periods of time so a shower bench is a needed accessory. I highly recommend making sure you have sturdy grab bars in place so they can get up and down and maneuver safely.
Every situation is different, and every elder is different. It’s important to watch and evaluate what our elders need. If your elders are like my elders, it’s been like detective work to find out where they are struggling. I hope this helps you pinpoint some of the areas to take a look at!
Stayed tuned for Part II of this series: Tech for Seniors.
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