Your Mom, or your Dad is well over 80 and still living independently. That’s wonderful! But how can you help your loved one maintain that independence for as long as possible?
Keep your loved one healthy
The sensations of taste and smell become less sensitive as we age. As a result, the elderly tend to lose interest in food. They don’t eat as much and they prefer food that is easy to fix – fast food, frozen dinners, snacks and sweets. Encouraging them to eat well will improve their ability to maintain muscle strength, bone density and help prevent heart disease.
The diet is basically the same for anyone; poultry and fish, very lean beef or pork, lots and lots of vegetables and fruit, limited amount of sweets and some starches. This type of diet helps prevent constipation as well.
Fluids – We tend to lose our sense of thirst as we age, so we don’t drink as much as we should. Water is the best liquid, but skim milk is important, too. Fruit juices don’t add much except sugar and calories, but if that’s what your loved one likes, give them fruit juices. Stay away from sodas, but coffee and tea in moderation are fine.
Do not let them turn into couch potatoes. Encourage walks. If feasible, get a small dog that has to be walked several times a day. The companionship does wonders for them as well. Take walks with them. Any form of moderate exercise done on a daily basis for half an hour helps to keep an elderly person alert, mentally sharp and healthy.
Medical and dental checkups
Your loved one may want to let regular checkups slide. Make sure they have appointments and keep them.
Keep your loved one safe
When we have to stop driving, we lose much of our independence. That is a major life change and not a pleasant one. Giving up driving can precipitate depression. When you think it is time, move cautiously when talking about giving up driving.
- Remove all throw rugs and small pieces of furniture that can be tripped over, such as magazine racks, end tables, even coffee tables.
- Do not allow the floor to be polished to such an extent that it becomes slippery.
- You may want to consider a walk-in bath tub or get a shower chair or transfer tub bench.
- Install grab bars in the tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Make sure there are night lights in the hall, bathroom and kitchen.
- A raised toilet seat enables an elderly person to get onto and off the toilet without difficulty.
- Try to eliminate steps wherever possible.
Keep your loved one interested in life
It is easy for the elderly living alone to slip away into their own tiny world and stop communicating, leading to depression.
Arrange for company
If you cannot spend as much time as you’d like with your loved one, you might think about providing an in home caregiver who would be present for several hours in the home.
The caregiver could check on medications, provide transportation to appointments or shopping, help keep the home neat and clean and provide companionship.
Keeping your loved one active and engaged not only wards off depression, but helps to keep the mind sharp and alert.
Keystone In-Home Care can help you find ways to prolong that independent life for someone you love.
At Keystone In-Home Care, we provide well trained, friendly caregivers who can help meet your goal of keeping your loved one at home and happy for as long as possible. We understand the importance of supporting the family caregiver as well as the aging senior. Your health and happiness are important, too. You will rest better knowing that the one you love is safe and comfortable in their own, clean and healthy home.