Staying Independent in Old Age Despite Changing Mobility

This article was written by our good friend Hazel Bridges of www.agingwellness.org, exclusively for our West View Nursing family and readers!

For almost everyone, getting older means everyday tasks getting a little bit harder. Between changes to your mobility, vision, and energy levels, staying on top of responsibilities can seem like a Herculean feat. But just because your body is changing doesn’t mean you have to give up your independence or resign yourself to a lower quality of living. With a few smart adaptations, you can keep living your best life throughout your senior years.

Modifying Your Home

When seniors get injured, it’s usually because of a fall. And when seniors fall, it’s usually at home. Most falls among the elderly happen in the bathroom, followed by the bedroom and kitchen. Stairs, bathtubs, cords, clutter, unsecured rugs, and insufficient lighting are the most common culprits when an elderly person falls at home.

To make your home safer, start by removing trip and fall hazards. Get rid of area rugs, keep electrical cords off the floor, and eliminate clutter in pathways. These are no-cost measures to make your home safer, but these steps alone aren’t enough.

For most seniors, home modifications are necessary to enable safe aging in place. The most important room to modify is the bathroom. At minimum, add grab bars by toilets and bathtubs and install slip-free flooring. If it’s in the budget, a walk-in shower improves your bathroom’s safety and convenience.

Rocker switches and ergonomic cabinet hardware and kitchen tools make routine tasks more comfortable for aging joints. However, if your vision is waning, you might choose to skip the rocker switches and instead install motion-activated lighting. That way, your path is lit without fumbling for a switch in the dark. While you’re updating your lighting, go ahead and add brighter fixtures; when you’re older, your eyes need more light to function.

Protecting Your Health

Your health directly influences the outcome of falls. If your body is frail, you’re more likely to experience a permanent disability or death due to a fall. If you’re going to continue living independently, it’s important to keep your body in optimal condition. In addition to eating a healthy diet, seniors should incorporate strength and balance training into their lifestyle.

Alcohol and prescription medications also increase fall risk. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that adults over the age of 65 consume no more than three drinks in one day and seven drinks per week. Seniors should also complete a yearly medication review with their prescribing physician.

Getting Help at Home

If you need extra help at home, there are options that don’t require giving up your independence. Consider what services you can hire to make everyday life easier. For example, if you can manage routine house cleaning but struggle with heavier housework, hiring a house cleaner and landscaper ensures your home stays tidy and that you don’t get hurt trying to dust the ceiling fan or mow the lawn. Grocery delivery is another popular service for seniors; you can order groceries and have them delivered to your door, or streamline meals with a meal kit subscription.

Hired services can also help seniors keep their pets, an important source of companionship in the later years. If walking and grooming your dog are becoming unsafe or too much to handle, a dog walker or pet sitter can handle pet care duties so you can continue enjoying the perks of pet ownership.

When you’re a senior, falling means more than a bruise and some soreness—falls can be disabling and even deadly for older adults. That’s why fall prevention is an integral part of healthy, independent aging. If you plan to age in place, talk to your doctor about what additional steps you should take to stay safe in your home.

Image via Unsplash

 

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