Help the Elderly Remain Independent

Helping the Elderly Remain Independent

People are living longer than they did hundreds of years ago, and most of them want to stay in their own home.
With age often comes ailments such as arthritis and other health issues, and some elderly people develop some form of Dementia, which is a whole different issue in itself.

We as family and friends need to make sure the senior citizens in our life are well taken care of. You might be surprised to learn that many have no family to check on them, and some have family, but they simply don’t care or don’t want to be bothered.

I work with seniors. I have since 2005. Many, but not all of my clients have had Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of Dementia, making daily tasks nearly impossible for them.

Others have suffered from arthritis and other debilitating diseases that makes even the simplest things like taking out the trash, walking to the mailbox, cleaning house and cooking extremely difficult.

I’m going to share some things here that you can do to make sure the people you love are well cared for and able to remain at home as long as they possibly can.

Good Nutrition Means Better Health

As we age, we sometimes lose our appetite, or perhaps food just tastes bland and no longer interests us. This is dangerous in the case of an elderly person.

Whether they don’t feel like preparing food for themselves, or they just don’t think or remember to eat (yes, this happens), they often times don’t eat adequate foods or proper amounts of food.

When we don’t eat properly or enough, it leads to weakness, and for the elderly that often means they start falling frequently. Too many falls will most likely lead to a nursing home for them.

What can you do?

Some States in the U.S. have programs that will deliver food to seniors and physically challenged people daily, so you could check into those for them. If they cost money, and you have it, offer to pay for this for them. They might still need a reminder call or visit to actually take the food out of the refrigerator and warm it up. You or they should also date the food when it comes in, so they won’t eat food that has spoiled.

You also could go over 2-3 days per week and cook meals for them, or cook at home, and bring them a daily meal. This might seem like a lot of work, but if you want them to remain independent as much as possible, this would help them out tremendously.

*Remember to never force anything on them. If they insist on cooking their own food, that’s OK, but please call them or stop by to make sure they are actually eating properly. You might even need to take them grocery shopping or shop for them.

Nutritional Supplements

If your loved ones still refuse to eat food you’re providing for them, consider trying some supplemental drinks like Ensure, Ensure Plus, Boost and so on.

These tasty shakes offer good vitamins, minerals and protein that healthy bodies and minds need!

Keep Quick, Healthy Food on Hand

Here is a list of foods that are healthy and can be grabbed and eaten quickly without having to warm up or cook:

*Fresh Fruit
*Fresh Vegetables (cut up)
*Granola Bars
*Yogurt
*Yogurt Bars
*Cereal Bars
*Cheese Sticks
*Sliced Cheese/Crackers
*Lunch Meat (for sandwiches, etc.)
*Cottage Cheese
*Supplemental Shakes (see info. to right)

Seniors Might Struggle with These Things

-Eating/Cooking -Paying Bills -Cleaning House -Getting the Mail
-Walking -Getting Groceries -Getting to the Bathroom -Getting to Appointments
-Remembering Meds -Doing Laundry -Changing the Bed -Organizing Life Tasks

Ways to Engage Minds

Keep Minds Active!

When we sit at home and watch TV, our minds can become mush, or at least not as active as they should be. The elderly especially should be encouraged to use their minds.

Watch the video to the right for a helpful exercise you might try with them. Here are some other things you can do:

*Play cards or other games with them.
*Work jigsaw puzzles together.
*Buy them crossword puzzles.
*Sit and talk to them regularly.
*Read a book to them, or talk about a book you’ve both read.

Medicine

Many seniors take a lot of different medications. This can be confusing for them. They might get them mixed up or forget which ones to take on which days and at what times and so on.

What can you do?

Sit down with your loved one and discuss which medicines they are currently taking. If they are confused, then you or they need to call their doctor just to make sure what they should be currently taking.

Get a pill box that is made for daily, weekly or monthly medications, and help your loved one fill the boxes at the beginning or end of every week (or you can just do it yourself, if they are OK with that).

If necessary, put notes on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror to remind them to take their medications.

You might need to type up a list with the name of the meds and the times/days they are supposed to be taken, then call your loved one and remind them to check their list and take their meds.

You can also have a check list of meds that they can check off when they take them.

Do whatever works best for you and your loved one!

Housekeeping

As we get older, cleaning our homes can often become difficult. If you notice your loved one’s home in disarray, or dirty, please don’t let them continue to live in dirt and clutter.

What can you do?

Don’t force anything on them, but offer to clean and/or straighten for them or hire someone who can. If they are uneasy about having a stranger in their home, offer to be there when they come to clean, and reassure them that professional services will have people who are bonded and insured.

A clean environment is a healthier environment! Plus, a bunch of clutter can be a tripping hazard!

Cleaning Checklist

*Vacuum
*Sweep
*Mop
*Dust
*Change bed linen
*Laundry
*Clean bathroom
*Remove cobwebs
*Windows/Sliding doors
*Straighten
*Empty trash
*Wipe walls and light switches
*Straighten closets
*Anything else you can think of or see that needs cleaning

Tripping Hazards

Older people might struggle to lift their feet, or they might use a can or a walker. There are many household items that can be tripping hazards for the elderly. Some of these include:

-Rugs
-Cords
-Furniture too close together
-Clutter on floors
-Things sticking out in walkways

What can you do?

Remove all obstructions and anything at all that you see on the floor and so on, that could result in feet being caught and falls taking place.

*Remember to get approval before moving or removing anything!

Other Things to Consider

There are some other things to consider when trying to help an elderly person or people remain independent and in their home:

If they no longer drive, are they able to easily get groceries or make it to appointments?
Would a bedside toilet help them?

Is there any other medical equipment that might benefit them?

Would they enjoy eating dinner at your house once in a while?

Would they like to simply go for a ride with you to get out of the house for a while?

Sit down and talk to your loved ones. Find out if they are having any struggles, and what those are. Ask them what you can do to help. Let them know they are not a burden! Many are afraid to ask for fear of burdening others.

If you see needs and issues, be honest with them, without belittling or judging them. Keep an open mind and always be patient and loving.

For Those with Dementia

It’s hard to face the fact that someone might not be able to be independent any longer. Sometimes we don’t realize just how bad things have become, or the struggles our loved ones are facing.

Spend time with them to see how they live on a daily basis. If you think your loved one has the beginnings of Dementia, then you need to get them to a doctor and discuss it with him or her.

They should be OK on their own for a while, until things get too bad. But be aware that things can become worse overnight, so anybody with Dementia who is living alone, should be checked on EVERY day! This is a must for their well-being!

I wrote a booklet (for sale below) about my experience in dealing with Alzheimer’s and other Dementia patients. I hope it will inspire others and let them know a little about what to expect when dealing with these special and wonderful people!

Alzheimer Effects: A Caregiver’s PerspectiveAlzheimer Effects, A Caregiver’s Perspective

More from This Author

Check out my websites, and web pages, and see the books I’ve written. Click on Margaret’s Gems

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Meet The Author

Margaret Brown

I write content for myself and others and enjoy spending time at home working online. I also enjoy time spent with friends and family, and my many cats, who are like my children.

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