Independent Senior Living How You Can Help
Senior living presents challenges not only to the aging individual but to family members concerned about their loved ones’ health and well-being. Placing a parent in a senior facility may be a viable or only option for some, but many seniors want to remain in their homes or apartments, or do not have the resources to be cared for in a facility. If your loved one can remain in the home, he or she may need your help.
Prepare the Home
Your parent may have physical and perhaps mental limitations that need to be addressed if he or she is to be safe in the house. To ensure their safety, go through the home and look to see what adaptive devices will make both of your lives easier:
- – Walk-in bathtub. No need to worry about falling in the shower or having to step into or out of a slippery tub.
- – Escalating chair for the stairs. This makes going up and down the stairs very easy and allows your parent to keep their upstairs bedroom.
- – Kitchen devices. Electric can openers, easy-to-use wine bottle openers, a large toaster or microwave oven can make your parent’s ability to make and enjoy food that much easier. Lower shelves in the kitchen or install new ones that are easily accessible.
- – Get a phone with large letters and numbers or install an amplified hearing device or one that types out the caller’s conversation. Teach your parent how to use facetime with a computer so you can observe their appearance and speech patterns.
- – Have a PERS (personal emergency response services) device easily accessible so your parent can merely push a button to call for help if they fall or are experiencing a stroke or heart attack.
- – Consider a camera in certain areas of the home so that you can see how your parent is doing at any time of the day or night. Get your parent’s permission, of course. There is also technology that allows you to remotely control locks, lighting, the TV, and the temperature.
Grocery Shopping and Meals
You no longer have to go to the grocery store, but can do so online where you can order whatever you want and have it delivered. A few times per week, you can have whole meals delivered by Meals on Wheels or other services.
In the alternative, take your parent shopping with you as this can provide them some exercise and time without being alone.
Medical concerns are primary with most seniors as is ensuring that your parent takes the medication that has been prescribed. There are “smart” pill bottles or dispensers that you and your parent can use to track medications. Some will retain the medication history and adherence data and automatically dispense the pills. Your parent is alerted by an audio and/or visual signal when it is time to take a certain medication.
Also, keep all medical appointments on your own calendar and arrange for transportation to and from appointments, if you are unable to take them, be sure someone accompanies your parent.
If necessary, you may need to hire a home health worker who can visit your parent for a few hours each day to ensure they are grooming themselves, eating and taking their medications. Your parent may qualify for financial assistance through the local council on aging or through Community MassHealth/Medicaid, or even VA Aid and Attendance Benefit.
Keeping active is key to preserving strength, reducing the severity of illness and incidence of falls as well as maintaining emotional health. An activity as simple as walking a mile or 2 each day or strolling in a mall can be effective. Many seniors enjoy swimming, water aerobics, spin classes or other group activities. Dancing, yoga, golf, or having a personal trainer work with your parent once or twice per week can be a lifesaver. If your parent has a hobby, encourage them to keep at it.
Many young people don’t read books anymore but your parent may still enjoy picking up a good book to read. You can make trips to the library or bookstore or encourage your loved one to do crossword puzzles, watch Jeopardy on TV or play a game on the computer; scrabble is a popular computer past-time for seniors. There are a variety of brain stimulating games and exercises on a computer or smartphone.
Loneliness is a major issue for seniors. Because they may have difficulty getting around, or friends have passed, or moved away, they have few interactions. You are encouraged to visit a few times per week for an hour or so, but be careful on staying for too long if family dynamics cause tension. You should know how long you can comfortably stay.
If possible, see what senior community activities are available. Senior Centers, Churches and synagogues are great places to meet other seniors. There are softball teams, bowling, bicycling, wine clubs and other similar activities for seniors.
You can also participate by not only shopping with your parent but playing golf, gardening, or merely taking your mother or father out for breakfast or lunch. Have them over for dinner on occasion to interact with you and the grandchildren, especially at holiday time when everyone else is with their family also.
There are numerous ways to keep your parent or parents healthy and connected to you and the community. By preparing their home, using available technology and services geared toward the elderly and discovering what activities are in your community for seniors, your loved ones can truly enjoy their golden years.
Consult Elder Law Attorney Patricia Bloom-McDonald
Elder law is a special area of the law that involves estate planning, probate, health care concerns, public benefits and how the law impacts seniors. If you are a senior or have an elderly parent or loved one who has issues regarding health or other benefits, or you have other topics of concern about your aging loved one, call elder law attorney Patricia Bloom-McDonald. Your initial one-hour consultation is always complimentary. You can reach her at 508-646-9888 or 781-713-4709 or through her website at www.McBloomLaw.com.