One of the most common elderly problems today is finding a way to safely age in place. According to a recent study conducted by AARP, 90 percent of seniors wish to grow older in their own homes. A big obstacle, however, in achieving that goal is a lack of help for the elderly living alone. While caregivers can certainly help a loved one age in place for a time, there’s no guarantee that a caregiver will be able to provide round-the-clock care.
Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to successfully age in place. We’ve compiled some tips for living alone – safely, to help you thrive at home.
1. Take care of your body.
This tip may seem obvious, but it’s important not to underestimate the positive impact of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle can offset many elderly problems, such as heart disease, dementia, arthritis and even falls. So what exactly does a healthy lifestyle involve? Exercise and a well-rounded diet for starters!
For seniors, a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical activity and a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and nuts is recommended. The Mediterranean diet has gotten a lot of attention recently because it includes all of those healthy foods listed above and has been shown to help prevent dementia and reduce stroke risk. Remember that your health comes first.
2. Remove any tripping hazards.
It’s normal to view your home as a safe haven – we all do, especially if we’ve been living in the same home for most of our lives. Even though it may be hard to believe that an accident could happen, a startling 60 percent of falls occur within the home, mostly as a result of tripping over something. That’s why it’s so important to be on the lookout for any tripping hazards lurking in your home, including the following:
- Electrical cords
- Area rugs
- Uneven floors or loose carpeting
- Any clutter on the floor (books, magazines, plants, shoes, blankets, etc.)
3. Install home safety tools.
Removing tripping hazards is only the first step in promoting your safety in your home. As we age, we become more susceptible to accidents that occur in the home, which is why these easy-to-install home safety tools are a big help for the elderly living alone:
- Non-slip mats in the kitchen and bathrooms
- Grab bars in the bathrooms
- Nightlights in each room
- Non-slip treads on steps
- Handrails in hallways
- Sturdy railings on both sides of the staircase
4. Have a buddy system.
Just because you’re aging in place doesn’t mean that you have to stay indoors all the time! In fact, social isolation has been known to be very damaging to seniors’ health. That’s why it’s so important to keep the company of friends and family members. Create an exercise routine with a nearby friend, get to know your neighbors or visit community centers where there are plenty of events for seniors in the area.
It’s also beneficial to have a buddy system. Schedule regular visits and check-in calls with family members and friends to make sure all is well.
5. Be proactive, not reactive.
Out of all the tips for living alone outlined, this is perhaps the most beneficial. None of us know when an emergency will strike, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to prepare for them. Develop a plan in the event of any emergency that may occur. This includes home fire, power outage, snowstorm or a medical emergency. Create a list of emergency contacts and keep them by the phone for quick reference, just in case.
While all of these tips for living alone are sure to help you successfully age in place, the best way to maintain your independence as you age is to ensure your safety with a medical alert device from Medical Guardian.