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How to Maintain Independence as You Age

Here at Just Like Family Homecare, we want to help you or your loved one maintain independence for as long as possible. Sometimes you need a little help getting to the grocery store, doing household chores, or walking the dog. Our caregivers are always here to assist in any help you may need. Our transportation business, Concierge Transport Services, also caters to those wanting to maintain an independent life. We provide helpful drivers and comfortable vehicles to get you to doctor’s appointments, the airport, or just to the supermarket.

Maintain independence

Many of us out there balk at the idea of receiving help from others. We are independent and enjoy doing things on our own, even if it may take a little longer. As we age, it gets a little more difficult to maintain a fully independent life. Some of us are lucky and have great health til a very old age. Others may need some assistance every now and then. It is a good idea to stay physical for as long as possible. Walking daily is a great, low impact exercise that keeps your muscles moving and active.

It may be tough to admit, but our eyesight tends to decline as we age. We may need glasses or bifocals to see properly when before we had 20/20 vision. It is important to update your prescription as soon as you notice a decline. Poor eyesight can lead to accidents like slips, or, if you are still driving, fender benders. To ensure the safety of yourself and other drivers, you should be testing your eyesight regularly. If you notice a marked decline, it may be a good idea to forgo driving. Driving is a key part to our independence, but there are many safe alternatives out there for getting you from point A to point B. Even asking a friend or family member in advance is worthwhile. Don’t feel like a burden, your friends and family will be happy to help you out! There may even be a bus or driving service in your area that caters to the elderly.

There are some small fixes you can have done to your living space that can help you maintain independence. Items like shower seats or handrails will allow you to safely bathe yourself. Place non-slip mats inside the shower/tub and just outside. Making sure your floor is level, is also important, as this will help prevent slips and falls. Adding a grab bar near the toilet is also useful. As is raising the toilet, so sitting and standing is easier.

If you or a loved one needs some extra assistance to help maintain independence, or just wants a little extra help, Just Like Family Homecare has you covered.


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How to Avoid Falling

For those times you want to be independent, From the Mayo Clinic’s “Healthy Aging” section

 

Fall prevention may not seem like a lively topic, but it’s important. As you get older, physical changes and health conditions — and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions — make falls more likely. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Still, fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Instead, consider six simple fall-prevention strategies.

1. Make an appointment with your doctor

Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off certain medications — such as sedatives and some types of antidepressants.
  • Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
  • Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, numbness or shortness of breath when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

2. Keep moving

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.

If you avoid physical activity because you’re afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.

3. Wear sensible shoes

Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead:

  • Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes, since foot size can change.
  • Buy properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
  • Avoid shoes with extra-thick soles.
  • Choose lace-up shoes instead of slip-ons, and keep the laces tied. If you have trouble tying laces, select footwear with fabric fasteners.
  • If you’re a woman who can’t find wide enough shoes, try men’s shoes.]

4. Remove home hazards

Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:

  • Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.
  • Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
  • Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
  • Use nonskid floor wax.
  • Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.

5. Light up your living space

Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:

  • Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
  • Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
  • Make clear paths to light switches that aren’t near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
  • Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

6. Use assistive devices

Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:

  • Hand rails for both sides of stairways
  • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
  • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
  • Grab bars for the shower or tub
  • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help or a larger investment. If you’re concerned about the cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence.