Fall Prevention

A safe home is the number one requirement for aging-in-place. Without a home that’s adapted to your needs, you’re one slip and fall away from moving to an assisted living facility. Before you start calling up contractors to remodel your house, this is what you need to consider when creating an aging-friendly home.

Remodeling for Accessibility

Remodeling in your senior years requires a different approach. No longer are aesthetics the focus; instead, it’s all about creating a home that’s safe, comfortable, and easy to live in. However, by planning ahead instead of waiting until your health demands it, you can incorporate accessibility features that are as stylish as they are functional. Here are some aging-in-place projects to put on your list:

  • Constructing a ramp: Entry stairs pose a significant fall risk, especially when carrying items into the house. Ensure you can enter and exit your home safely by creating at least one step-free entrance. If your current entrances all have stairs, that means building a ramp to guide you indoors.
  • Installing grab bars: Falls in the bathroom cause serious injuries. According to Today’s Caregiver, 30 percent of seniors injured in a bathroom fall fracture a bone. While grab bars aren’t known for their beauty, they’re an important component of bathroom safety. Install grab bars at the shower and toilet, and opt for designs that double as towel racks, toilet paper holders, and other bathroom mainstays to avoid an institutional feel.
  • Replacing flooring: In your senior years, you want flooring that’s both slip-resistant and soft underfoot. Replace tile in the kitchen with cork, wood, or linoleum, add slip-resistant vinyl in the bathroom, and swap shaggy carpet with a low-pile alternative.
  • Adding lighting: Age-related vision changes make it difficult to see in dimly-lit spaces. Installing brighter overhead lighting and adding task lighting in busy areas compensates for poor vision so you can navigate your home safely.

Scheduling Projects

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (annca)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (annca)

Unless you’re heading to a vacation home for half the year, it’s not practical to tackle all these home modifications at once. Remodeling will leave portions of your home unusable for weeks at a time, so it’s important to schedule projects carefully if you plan to live in your home through the remodeling.

Schedule remodeling projects to limit the intrusion on your daily life. That means no kitchen remodeling around the holidays and only doing one bathroom at a time. It also means spacing projects out so if one takes longer than expected, it doesn’t interfere with the start of the next project. Time off between remodeling projects also gives you breaks so you don’t go crazy waking up to construction sounds every day.

Research different projects to discover estimated time to completion, then decide when you’d like the project to occur. Perhaps you’ll schedule the kitchen during summer when you can grill on the patio, or the bathroom in spring after your holiday guests are gone. Keep projects on schedule by knowing exactly what you want before hiring a contractor. According to Consumer Reports, homeowners’ changing their minds is the biggest reason renovations take longer than expected.

Buying a New Home

Sometimes, remodeling your home for accessibility isn’t financially feasible. If your house would need extensive updates, especially if it requires costly additions like home elevators, you may be better off purchasing a new home. The median listing price for a home in Orem, UT, is $348,000, including accessible homes. However, seniors searching for smaller homes can save money without compromising style and comfort. To maximize your options, expand your search to include apartments and townhomes in addition to single-family residences. Many older adults discover they love living in multi-family buildings because of the proximity to neighbors, public transportation, and local amenities. No matter what type of home you’re looking for, review the local listings to get a feel for what’s available and how much it costs.

The decision to remodel your home or purchase a downsized dwelling is a highly personal one. However, you shouldn’t let emotions get in the way of safety. By making the choice that maximizes your safety at home, you make it possible to stay independent as you age.

 

Contributed by Lydia Chan. Lydia is the co-creator of Alzheimerscaregiver.net, a website that aims to provide tips and resources to help caregivers. Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lydia found herself struggling to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experiences with caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia finds joy in writing articles about a range of caregiving topics.

Fitness for Seniors

With age, most people tend to become sedentary. Work, kids, and relationships can push your health and well-being down on the list of your priorities. However, staying fit is a primary key to a long, healthy, and productive life, and being able to take care of others around you.

Benefits of exercise for seniors

By leading an active life, seniors benefit more than people of any other age. Exercising regularly not only improves your overall physical health but also boosts your mental health.  Key physical benefits include increased mobility, flexibility, and balance. You’ll be able to control your weight, even lose a few pounds, and the impact of chronic diseases and illnesses can decrease. Your brain also undergoes positive changes, you’ll sleep better, and your self-confidence and mood will lift.

Obstacles to an active lifestyle

Maintaining an active lifestyle is hard at any age, and it gets harder as you get older. The biggest hindrance is the thought that you’re too old to exercise. Sure, it’s not easy, but people that become active in older age show better progress, both physically and mentally. Some older adults are scared they’ll fall if they exercise, but the opposite is true. You’ll gain strength, stamina, improve balance, and avoid bone density loss.

Another excuse seniors have is that they will never be as athletic as they once used to be, and that’s true. But you don’t have to; your goals will be different from someone half your age. Chair-limited seniors are the least active and think they can’t exercise, but they are the ones who need to be active the most. Chair aerobics, chair yoga, weight lifting, and tai chi can be done from a chair to increases flexibility, muscle tone, enhance the range of motion, and promote heart health.

Fear or pain or hurting oneself may also hold you back. There are many aids and gadgets available to ease aches and pains that may arise from exercise including braces, wraps, and orthoses. You’ll especially need to take care of your feet if you have diabetes like 25% of seniors do. If your feet feel the heat when running, find the best insoles for heel pain for some added cushion and relief for your feet.

A plan just for you

Since every person is unique, you’ll need a tailored workout program. Depending on your level of flexibility and mobility, you can walk, run, join senior classes, do water aerobics or yoga, practice tai chi or qi gong, dance, play tennis, play basketball, go swimming, or do all of these. To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy, someone who you like spending time with. Try new activities to keep your brain and body involved. Even if you don’t like a particular activity, you’ll still get to spend some time with a good friend.

Making sure your plan is balancedFind balance to fit your health needs

While doing any physical activity will improve your health, doing new or at least different activities will make sure you cover all the five blocks of fitness:

Concentration and focus:  Exercises like yoga will keep your brain focused and active. Depending on how flexible you are, you can do any easy poses like cobra, down dog, seated twist to advanced poses like power yoga and Bikram yoga. Brain games can also keep your brain guessing and engage your memory.

Balance:  Exercise like tai chi and yoga can help improve balance and become more stable. This not only reduces your risk of falling but can also help improve your posture.

Cardio:  Jogging, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, rowing, and other fast pace exercises use large muscle groups an extended time. You should feel your heart pumping, get short of breath and sweaty. Cardio gradually builds stamina and reduces shortness of breath and fatigue.

Power training:  Exercises that involve lifting weights can help build muscles and prevent bone mass loss. This promotes independence and allows you to do many tasks, such as lifting heavy items or opening a jar, that many other citizens will need help with.

Flexibility:  Stretching exercises and yoga increase your range of motion and encourage your joints to move freely. Doing daily chores, playing with your grandkids, and doing other routine physical activities will be a lot easier as your flexibility increases.

How seniors can stay motivated

Remember these quick tips if your motivation level seems to be going down:

–          Listen to your favorite music while working out

–          Get competitive, especially when playing any sports

–          Socialize and meet new people

–          Keep changing your exercise routine and the type of exercise you do

–          Keep a log of your activity and reward yourself every time you hit a new level

Staying safe

The goal is to get active, but safety always comes first. Start slow and gradually increase intensity and frequency. Consult your doctor before starting a new activity, especially if you have an underlying condition. Listen to your body, you might be sore, feel tightness in the muscles, but it should never hurt. If it does, stop immediately and consult your doctor.

Author: Joe Fleming

Vive Health

Falling can be one of the most catastrophic events to happen in an elderly person’s life and that’s why preventing falls is so important.  It’s been estimated that about 1/3 of seniors living at home fall each year, and this is only reported falls.  Over 20% of falls result in serious head injuries or fractures and falling accounts for 70% of accidental deaths among seniors age 75 and older.

Almost half of those who fall cannot get up without help even though they may not be injured and many develop a fear of falling that ends up limiting their daily activities. Preventing falls in the home isn’t hard but does take some planning and effort.

There are a number of factors that play a roll in why seniors fall, but we are going to focus on steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling in your home:

  1. Remove things that might cause you to trip
    • Throw rugs or mats
    • Clutter – newspapers, books, mail, clothing
    • Pets and pet bowls
    • Phone cords
    • Electric cord
  2. Organize furniture so there is plenty of room to move freely
    • remove items from stairs and doorways or halls
  3. Don’t walk on wet floors and clean up spills right away.
  4. Wear shoes or non-skid socks.
  5. Use non-slip mats in the shower or tub and rubber-backed rugs in the bathroom
  6. Make sure there is plenty of light. Use nightlights and keep a flash light by the bed in case the power goes out.
  7. Use grab bars and handrails. 
    • When carrying something, use one hand to hold the handrail and the other to carry the item. Don’t try to carry too much at once.
  8. Make sure transition areas are level and easy to see (for example, kitchen to living room, bedroom to hallway).

fall risk

Aspen Senior Care wants seniors to be safe and feel secure in their homes. While some falls are the result of medical and physical conditions, preventing falls in the home is possible with some care and planning.  Check back soon to see simple strengthening exercises that seniors can do in their homes to increase lower body strength that will help with fall prevention.

For seniors and the elderly who are fall risks due to poor health and weakness, Aspen Senior Care provides one-on-one support in the home with trained and qualified caregivers. We assist seniors with meals, bathroom assistance, light housekeeping, transportation, dementia care and much more.

Call us at 801-224-5910 for information on how we can help.