The older adult population comprises 15% of the American population. This number is expected to double from the present 46 million to 98 million in the year 2060. Proportionate to the increasing number of seniors is the rising number of healthcare challenges concerning elderly people.
Everyone wants to live a comfortable life and your elderly loved ones are not an exception. The physical and social changes associated with aging can greatly reduce the quality of life of seniors. Fortunately, there are ways on how to mitigate these problems.
You can help improve the living standards of elderly people through the following tips
Pay Them a Visit
Being solitary at home or being in a home care facility away from family members can make them experience loneliness. Grief from the passing of a loved one also adds to their burden.
It has been shown that older adults tend to frequent their visit to their doctor when they experience chronic loneliness. Doctor visits make older adults feel like they are visiting a friend, especially if they have been seeking consult with the said doctor for quite a time.
Visiting them and engaging them in conversation increases their sense of self-worth, improve their well-being, and relieve stress. You can also organize family gatherings and outings during family celebrations or holidays. Having a supportive social circle can lead to better health, prevent depression, and mitigate dementia in seniors.
Safeguard Their Home
- Security. Elderly adults are being targeted by burglars and thieves. For their peace of mind, put a peephole in every door so that they know who is on the other side of the door. Fix additional locks on every door and window. Install surveillance cameras and alarm systems for additional security.
- Hazards. Home safety also includes household hazards. Fix or remove damaged chairs and tables. Make sure that the staircases are not slippery and equipped with handrails. Make bathing safer and easier by using additional bath aids such as grab bars, non-slip mats, shower chairs, and handheld showers. Smoke detectors must be properly working as well.
- Lighting and Ventilation. The house must be adequately lighted, both indoor and outdoor. If you can, add sensor-activated light for easy use. The house should also be well-ventilated to prevent suffocation.
- Bedroom Safety. As much as possible, their bedroom must be located on the first floor to prevent them from having to use the stairs. Install bed rails to give them better mobility.
Encourage Physical Activity
Elderly people usually find it hard to be physically active because of their mobility and balance problems. Encourage simple physical activity like physical therapy exercises and early morning walks because they are tolerable and easy to do. Being physically active can improve their stamina, stimulate blood flow, and relieve stress.
If they are not motivated to do simple exercises, join them in doing these activities. You can also prompt them to start a new hobby they might like. Being around like-minded people their age might also inspire them. Introduce them to senior centers and other community programs for seniors.
Keep Their Health in Check
Old age is a major risk factor for many diseases. Due to the deterioration of body functions brought by aging, elderly adults are more prone to develop diseases. Monitoring health indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, temperature, and body weight is essential in the early detection and treatment of developing health problems.
It is a common fact that older people have more brittle bones due to the loss of bone mass. They might also find it difficult to move around and do daily activities due to stiff joints. Make their life easier and more comfortable by providing them with mobility aids such as canes or walkers if necessary. Make them use adaptive dressing aids to make dressing less difficult.
You can also encourage them to do mentally stimulating activities such as crossword and jigsaw puzzles to keep their mind sharp. Research has shown that the visual perception of elderly adults can be improved through playing jigsaw puzzles.
Keep Them Ready
If they have maintenance medications, make sure that they have a sufficient stock of their medicine to prevent last-minute trips to the pharmacy. Organize their medicines in properly labeled pill organizers to prevent confusion.
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Their house should also have available communication devices so that they can reach out for help if they need to. Provide them with a list of emergency numbers to the hospital, fire and poison department, their doctor, and immediate relatives. Their house should also be equipped with a medical kit and over-the-counter medicines so that they have a handy source of supplies in case of an emergency.
Old age already comes with many physiologic problems so you might want to make their life a little better by applying these tips. Try not to overpower their preferences. Allow them to make decisions on their own and make them feel that their presence is still of great value to your life.