How to Keep Senior Loved Ones Happy and Healthy in Your Home
Charlotte is a growing metropolitan region with demographics all over the map, relocating to our city for college, jobs, retirement, etc. We are seeing a decade-long surge in multi-generational living. Those who are accustomed to living independently, as they have for decades, are now joining their adult children - and even grandchildren - all under one roof.
How does one generation acclimate another generation - the one from which they were given life - to a new home, a new city, a new lifestyle?
Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to make life easier for your loved one during this big move and to make your home safer and more comfortable.
Encourage Your Senior Loved One to Stay Social
No matter how much your parent loves you, it can be difficult for her to rely on you for health, safety and a home. Your loved one may experience feelings of depression while processing all of the changes that come with this type of move, but avoiding social activities will only make those feelings worse. Social isolation is a prevalent issue among older adults and is even considered a significant public health threat for affected seniors. So if your parent shows signs of fatigue, depression or can’t seem to keep up with personal hygiene after moving in with you, know that social isolation could be a problem. You can help your loved one get over this hurdle by urging her to find a part-time job, join a fitness class, or even get involved with volunteer work.
Be Sure to Address Any Other Mental Health Concerns
While social isolation is a common concern for aging adults, it is by far not the only one. Since many seniors move in with loved ones after losing a spouse, grief can be an emotional factor as well. Supporting a surviving parent’s social activities can make processing this grief a bit easier, but you may also need to provide additional support at home. Consider cooking some comforting, healthy meals to encourage your loved one to eat and maybe take some walks outside together on a regular basis. Grief can also impact a senior’s ability to sleep, so you should take care with creating a comforting sleep haven in your loved one’s bedroom. Make sure this room has a supportive mattress and try to minimize to promote deep and restful sleep for your loved one.
Clear Out Clutter Before Your Senior Loved One Arrives
Another way to care for your elderly loved one’s mental health is to get rid of clutter in your home. Clutter can impact emotions by increasing feelings of anxiety and stress, which can take a toll on seniors who are already stressed out by this major life transition. Not only will clearing out clutter reduce stress for everyone living in your home, but reducing clutter can also eliminate safety hazards and help prevent your aging parent from falling. In fact, getting organized and getting rid of clutter is one of the top fall prevention suggestions recommended by home healthcare experts. It’s especially important to keep random items off of floors to lessen trip hazards, but you should make an effort to organize other areas of your home too.
Go Room By Room to Eliminate Safety Risks
So you’ve successfully decluttered and organized your entire home. Hazards to your loved one’s health and safety, however, can still be lurking in each room. Before your loved one begins to unpack and settle in, walk through every room to look for these safety risks. While not necessarily clutter, you may want to get rid of rugs that can cause your loved one to slip as well as any exposed cords. Also, make sure that all accessible living areas are well-lit, and consider focusing your attention on preventing falls in the bathroom. Why the bathroom? Senior fall reports show that bathrooms tend to be some of the most dangerous rooms in the home, so yours needs to be equipped with features like grab bars to keep your loved one safe.
Your aging loved one invested so many years into your happiness and health. So return the favor by investing your time in home preparations that will keep your senior family member healthy, happy and comfortable in this new stage of life.
A special thank you to Eugene Williams of DIY Dad. Find more great DIY tips at his website, http://diydad.info/.
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