Making home safe for your loved one

More and more older adults are remaining in their homes as they age. If you and your loved one decide that is the right choice, these ideas can help you and your loved one incorporate activities and tools that support a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically.

Learn tips for every room in the house

Some activities that engage the mind are associated with decreased risk for Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. Reading, Sudoku, and even the newer trend of adult coloring books all strike a balance of focus and relaxation. Even listening to favorite music from their youth can also support your loved one’s memory and make them feel happier.

Set up a comfortable chair and side table where books or other supplies for these activities can stay in easy reach. Lastly, swap out blinds and drapery for material that allows in natural light, which is key to regulating the natural rhythms of the body.

To be more active, your loved one can try exercising with videos from the library or their cable provider, including low-intensity cardio and strength training. In addition to other health benefits, regular exercise can reduce older adults’ fall risk. Your loved one should talk with their doctor about what exercises are safe and recommended.

It goes without saying that a fridge, freezer, and pantry stocked with brain-boosting and disease-busting whole foods (like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) is good for the body and mind. If your loved one has an iPad® or tablet, they can put a “cookbook stand” on their counter to hold the device. That makes it easier to find healthy recipes and even shop for groceries online. Last but not least, cleaning out kitchen clutter will make it more appealing to cook and reduce the risk of injuries when reaching for a poorly stored pan.

Even though older adults need less sleep, quality of sleep can decline with age. A new mattress that provides optimum support can help ease aches and pains. It’s a good idea to ease into the day with early morning stretching or meditation. Meditation guides are available online and on smartphones. You can also limit allergens and tripping hazards by clearing out closets and clutter.

Stocking up on toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss when they are on sale will make it easier for your loved one to maintain dental health, which can have a surprising impact on general health. Try to clean out the medicine cabinet twice a year. Old prescriptions should be appropriately disposed of at an approved site (many RI police stations accept them so that medications don’t fall into the wrong hands). Newer prescriptions should be organized in a pillbox or other system to help your loved one maintain the prescribed dosage and schedule. A  pharmacist should be able to help you and your loved one come up with the best system for your routine, and can also advise you on which medications should be stored away from the fluctuating temperatures and varying humidity of the bathroom. Limit the risks of falling by investing in anti-slip floor and tub mats.

For many people, gardening is an enjoyable form of physical exercise with calming emotional benefits as well. A wearable activity tracker or even a basic pedometer can be a fun reminder to take a walk around the neighborhood, which has the added benefit of offering an opportunity to catch up with neighbors and friends.

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