Are you concerned about your older loved one's ability to live safely in their home? Christene Rush Braunius, an occupational therapist at Broward Health North, has the following tips to help older adults keep their independence.
1.) Ask For Help Around the House: Consider activities you're having trouble with and ask for assistance when possible. You may be able to do a "swap" with neighbors (such as offering to sign for packages if they work during the day in exchange for help changing light bulbs in hard-to-reach places). Hire professionals for regular cleaning and lawn care, arrange for Meals on Wheels or medication delivery.
2.) Arrange For Transportation:If you’re concerned about your driving skills, consider asking a friend or neighbor to provide a ride whenever possible (offering gas money or a service in return can make this easier). If you haven’t taken public transportation in the past, you may be surprised at the number of options available. Many communities offer a free bus or van to shopping centers or even medical appointments. If you are still driving, attend a CarFit event in your community to be sure your vehicle’s adjustments are best for you (car-fit.org). Avoid driving during rush hour, at night, on busy roads, or in inclement weather.
3.) Keep Pathways Clear: Remove unnecessary throw rugs to reduce the risk of falling, decrease clutter, repair furniture that isn’t sturdy, reduce electrical cords, keep them away from walking paths and be sure all outlets are grounded. Purchase “universal design” products to improve their ease of use. Consider purchasing some type of alert button in case of an emergency, or wearing your cell phone around your neck so it is easily accessible.
4.) Work on Balance/Mobility: If you are suffering from balance issues or decreased mobility, consider occupational and/or physical therapy to help regain those skills necessary for safe and independent self care and functional mobility. If a medical condition is limiting your ability to care for yourself, you may qualify for help in the home via insurance or self pay.