Senior Independence Month
I took some time this week to sit down with Lorraine Harlan, our Manager of Home Care, to talk about some practical steps individuals and families can take to give Senior Citizens the best chance to live safely and independently for years to come. Before coming on at the Star Center, Lorraine worked at the Therapy and Learning Center with adults with various disabilities. She knows first-hand how people thrive when they are in the right environment. She also told me how important it was for caregivers to have a break from their role so they can rest and accomplish everyday tasks. We spent some time chatting about safety in the home and how Star Center Home Care can provide vital assistance to caregivers. Specifically, we talked about 4 safety tips and 3 ways Star Center Home Care can help seniors maintain their independence.
4 Safety Tips
1. Clear and Visible Paths
We all know someone who keeps a few too many things around the house. Collecting stamps, coins, etc. or displaying great finds from an antique shop are fun ways to add personality to your home, but too much stuff around the home can present some unanticipated risks. Keep walking paths clear of clutter and make sure they are also well-lit. This will reduce the risk of falls. Get rid of bulky throw rugs. “People love their big fluffy rugs,” Lorraine told me. “But if you’re not careful, those throw rugs will really throw you.”
2. Ease of Access
No one likes it when things are out of reach. That being said, many of our homes are built under the illusion that all of us are over 6 feet tall. Make sure essential belongings are within arm’s reach, so you don’t have to stretch or climb. This could mean adjusting shelves or consolidating belongings at a lower level. Some spring cleaning (early, I know) can help to free drawers and cabinets of clutter so you can fit more where it matters most.
“Lots of falls happen in the garage or on the front porch. Installing hand rails in these and other trouble spots can prevent falls and aid in overcoming balance issues.” Lorraine said. Some other common places that handrails can make a big difference are in the bathtub or next to the toilet. There’s a great example of some adjustable handrails in action here, but you can always find a more traditional option at your local hardware store.
4. Fire Safety
“You would be amazed if you knew how many homes we go to that don’t have working smoke detectors,” Lorraine told me. “A fire extinguisher is also a good precautionary measure to have in the home.” House fires have declined steadily over the last decade, but people over the age of 85 still have the highest risk of death or injury due to fires. Make sure smoke detectors are operational and that their batteries are changed regularly.
How Can Star Center Home Care Help?
1. Nutrition and Hydration
As people get older, they often do not take care of themselves like they used to. They begin to reach for food that is quick and easy to prepare. Often, this food is high in sodium and other ingredients that are difficult for our body to digest in a healthy way. Pair that with a higher than average instance of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems in older individuals, and the results can be disastrous. With Star Center Home Care, Personal Assistants prepare nutritious meals for our members, so you can rest safe with the confidence that your loved one is eating well.
2. Medication Reminders
It’s hard to remember to take medication. Sometimes people will forget to take medication entirely. At other times, they will take their medication for the day, forget they took it, and take a second dose. Taking medication safely is a major concern, and there are some practical ways to make this easier. Use a pill box with the days of the week on it. Use an alarm or reminders on a cell phone to prompt taking medication, or just tie it into a part of your daily routine (after I eat breakfast, I always take my medication). Our personal assistants can also provide medication reminders when they are with your family member, so you can rest assured your loved one will remember to take their medicine.
3. Respite Care
Life is busy. Serving as a primary caregiver for a loved one can be exhausting, and can place stress on relationships. Lorraine told me about a couple who had been married for over 60 years. After a stay in a rehab hospital, one of them was determined to care for the other, so that they could both remain in their home. This caretaker needed a little help during the day to fill the gaps when they just couldn’t do it by themselves. Because of Star Center Home Care, this couple is doing well at home. The caregiver is tired, but because of the rest and breaks they receive from their Star Center personal assistant, they are both able to maintain their independence in the comfort of their own home.
The Star Center has been providing Home Care for 19 years, and we have seen the huge impact that personalized, professional service has in helping someone maintain their independence in the comfort of their own home. It isn’t always easy to identify risk factors in the home, or to have an impartial view on how a loved one is really doing. We want to be a helping hand in the decision making process. Whether you choose to use Star Center Home Care or not, feel free to give us a call at (731) 554-5100 for a free needs assessment, or to talk about some of the funding sources available to you.