A significant push toward aging in place is underway across America. Older adults who stay in their homes have better health outcomes and remain more engaged in their communities. However, there can also be a safety risk for certain people. The following suggestions can help improve the safety and overall wellbeing of individuals who choose to remain at home in their golden years.
1. Get Them a Cell Phone Plan
In today’s society, it may seem unlikely to encounter someone without an internet-capable cell phone. However, many of the most vulnerable seniors have resisted smartphones. Address this issue and get your parents a smartphone. Then, use it to keep in touch with them regularly. If cost is a concern, consider applying for free mobile service to ensure they have a plan without straining the budget.
2. Encourage Social Activities
Staying socially engaged is key to successfully aging at home. Maintaining connections to the community and friends is among the most significant benefits of aging in place. Work to make this a reality for your parents by encouraging social activities. Some examples of ways to stay engaged include:
- Joining a senior center
- Enrolling in senior fitness classes at a local gym
- Attending community programs
- Joining a senior travel group
3. Complete a Home Safety Evaluation
Go through your parent’s house with a home safety checklist and look for potential hazards. Then, take steps to reduce the identified issues. If you need help, contact a community organization or your parents’ medical provider for support resources.
This simple step can help prevent falls, which is a big deal. Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization among older adults. Additionally, many common fall-related injuries result in additional complications that make recovery difficult.
4. Contact Transportation Providers
Many, though not all, older adults face a time when they must give up driving privileges. If your parents have faced this obstacle to independence, you can help by contacting transportation providers. Many communities offer senior-specific services that provide rides for medical appointments and social activities. These are often available for free or at a very low fare.
5. Encourage Physical Activity
Exercise is crucial to maintaining physical abilities. Many of the symptoms associated with age are actually the result of a lack of physical activity. Luckily, there are numerous things older adults can do to stay active.
Companies such as Silver Sneakers have made a name for themselves with senior-focused exercise programs. Check if your parents are eligible for one of these programs and get them enrolled. However, if they aren’t, you still have options. For example, many university physical and occupational therapy programs have established exercise programs for seniors to help keep them active and reduce the risk of falls.
6. Help Prepare Meals
Making healthy and balanced meals is an area where many older adults need help. For some, the cost of fresh ingredients may be prohibitive. For others, declining hand strength and dexterity can make preparation difficult. Overcome these obstacles by offering to prep a few freezer meals each week. Then, store them in microwave or oven-safe containers to make reheating simple.
This can help your parents remain independent and reassure you that they eat nutritious food. If you are too far away for hands-on cooking, look into ordering a meal service instead. Meals on Wheels is another option that is excellent for older adults. In addition to a hot daily meal, it provides daily contact with a compassionate individual.
7. Invest in a Connected Emergency Call Button
One of the best yet most frequently overlooked features of retirement communities is the emergency call buttons located throughout homes and public spaces. They allow individuals who need help to get it with the push of a button. You can replicate this at home with an emergency assistance plan.
8. Visit Them
Don’t underestimate the power of a visit. Whether you spend an entire day or just an hour, that time can mean the world to your parent. It helps them feel valued and gives you a chance to connect. Down the road, there is a good chance that these will be some of your most cherished memories of your parents.
Preparing meals, arranging transportation, and completing a home safety evaluation can all help make aging in place easier and safer.