Tips to make everyday life easier
3rd November 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Life gets a little more difficult as people get older in numerous small and barely perceptible ways. Whether it is a reduced sharpness of faculties, asking people to speak a little louder or holding a book a little closer, these all add up to create changes in behaviour.
Thankfully most of these can be compensated for especially with today’s technology. While on going mobility problems may eventually lead to installing a stairlift there are small adjustments that can be made to everyday objects to improve their function.
Whether someone is looking to comfort a friend or family member or just improve their everyday experience, follow some of the ideas below.
For those who forget
As people get older, short term memory can become less precise. Though on the surface this may just result in slight confusion regarding appointments, it can have much larger consequences.
Often memory problems are an early sign of dementia as well as an ongoing marker of it. By finding small ways to alleviate the burden or remembering, people can do much to comfort and reassure their loved ones.
Keeping medical appointments, social engagements and expecting visitors can be taxing for those with a perfect memory. To help those with less than perfect recall, a clear schedule of their next doctor’s trip or coffee morning can be drawn up. Though the temptation for some people is to purchase the latest in technology, often simpler responses to problems are easier adults. The Alzheimer’s Society sells a calendar that was designed by a carer to aid others in a similar situation.
While some instances of forgetfulness are distressing, others can be downright dangerous. Many older adults are on prescription medication and failing to take these at the allotted time can cause complications. There can also be difficulties removing childproof locks on medications. A pill dispenser is a great way of reminding older adults to take their medication. Graying with Grace has a guide looking at what automatic pill dispensers offer, what needs they meet and the drawbacks.
Having clear and visible clocks in the house is a wonderful way to ensure those with less astute memories make appointments on time. Putting these in the most well used rooms in the house reduces the chance of them not being seen. Top 5 Reviewed suggest the best Calendar clocks on the market that give the date and the time in friendly and understandable ways.
For those concerned for a family member or friend and feel they need more than a clock or calendar, artificial assistance may be the way forward. Though this requires a little more investment in both time and money it can also act as a companion. Hampshire County Council has recently got on board with a trial that pairs up Amazon’s Alexa with older adults to remind them when a carer is coming and to keep them company.
Not all company should be artificial and if it is possible, visiting a couple of times a week is the best way to understand how a person needs help. You may often see them forgetting keys and thus invest in look into Tom’s Guide suggestions for the best key finders or find them often missing key medical appointments due to forgetfulness. Monitoring people as they get older is the best way to ensure their environment fits their needs.
For those with limited mobility (at Home)
As working adults, people spend the majority of their time at home, this is only increased as they get into retirement. Ensuring their home is well adapted to their needs is important especially if they have limited mobility. This may mean some larger changes to keep older adults in their home such as remodelling the bath room for easier access facilities or fitting a stairlift for access to the upper floors, however not all changes have to be large to have an impact.
Encouraging older adults to cook is exceptionally important, especially with the rising concerns for malnutrition in that demographic, however if people who were once keen cooks have put down their pans in the kitchen, there may be something wrong.
Often those with limited mobility struggle with their range of motion and (women especially) are prone to weak joints. This may mean that carrying a pan full of hot water and pasta is no longer possible and could even put people off cooking. To overcome this, lighter pans have been created to ensure the kitchen is just as accessible as the rest of the home. A similar attitude is applicable to crockery and serving dishes.
Knowing the different properties of stainless steel versus aluminium can be difficult but is central to getting the cookware that is best suited for circumstance. The Kitchn has a guide to different materials, the pros and the cons to help people decipher what material they need.
Having the correct appliances can do much to help people maintain their home and independence. Large under counter dishwashers often have heavy doors and can be difficult to open. A table top dishwasher removes the need to bend to load the dishwasher which can be difficult for those with mobility issues.
Induction hobs are also a positive change if someone is looking to upgrade their kitchen. The flat surface makes it easier to clean while the induction element makes it more energy efficient with an even heat that reaches temperatures much faster. It is also worth noting that due to the technology, induction hobs do not get as hot as their traditional alternatives and also turn off when the cooking vessel is removed, reducing the risk. T3 give a rundown of the best induction hobs in every price range though any local kitchen or electrical store should be able to give advice.
An industrial strength hoover may be necessary to clean up the family home however as people get older, the weight and lack of manoeuvrability of a standard hoover can hamper their ability to use it. There are so many light weight vacuum cleaners that use similar technologies but are much more compact and easily handled – making them perfect for older adults.
With special adaptations for pets, long handles to remove any discomfort in posture often they are also cordless to remove the need to stoop so to plug in the device. Lightweight Vacuum Cleaners Hub has a run-down of the best on the market with different features, their weight and special adaptations. Long handled feather dusters will remove the concern of stretching or standing on unsteady surfaces to reach high places.
The main access to and from a person’s house is important and can be the main hindrance to staying active outdoors. This is especially important to those reliant on mobility accessories. Keeping on top of overhanging bushes or other trip hazards can be over whelming for some older adults.
This can be easily overcome in a couple of ways. Hiring a person to maintain the outside areas for not only footfall but also other upkeep like taking out bins is an alternative if the older adult does not have a support network nearby. Clever planting is another way to maintain an outside area. If an older adult resists paving the entire surface, a few hardy evergreens with a minimal mature growth will keep weeds at bay while still looking attractive. Turf Online has great ideas for cleverly used succulents to keep a front garden looking fresh and interesting.
Though the gas man hopefully will not be coming round every week, it can be disconcerting when he arrives and expects all sorts of readings that due to mobility restrictions, the house owner is just not able to give. Though this may be a job for friends and family when they visit, it is also worth notifying the suppliers. Some suppliers ask for meter readings online and pointing out mobility issues means they will be more understanding and avoid embarrassment.
For those with limited mobility (out and about)
Older adults remaining active in their community is important in the face of increasing loneliness, however there are lots of things that hamper their ability to enjoy a local town environment to the fullest. These include a lack of accessible shops on the high street and limited time to cross roads with the short duration the green man shows for.
Looking at the small chores in town that cause anxiety, people may be able to help alleviate concerns and make each trip to the local town centre more enjoyable.
Though buying local is great for the environment and local economy, carrying heavy bags home can prove a real struggle. With the growing cause for concern over nutrition in older adults, organising a weekly shop online for basic and heavy food is an easy way to ensure older adults don’t have to carry heavy tins home while still ensuring they have fresh and healthy food.
If online shopping is too confusing for older adults, friends and family can help them set it up for deliveries of heavy goods like milk, potatoes and tins every week.
Though banking has moved forwards significantly in the last 20 years, some older adults are struggling to catch up and hold on to their cheque books. However going to the bank can be stressful, with long queues but this can be avoided as many transactions can be done online.
Banks have lots of safety measures in place and some banks like Barclays have understood the needs of older adults, and have brought out a larger and audio card reader to help them at home.
Encouraging older adults to have a fulfilling social life will help their overall happiness and investigating local clubs that may be of interest is a great way for them to meet new people. If possible, accompanying them on their first couple of sessions will ease any anxiety about going to a new destination and meeting new people.
If it is a club that improves a skill such as art or photography, it may be something they want to practice at home. Encourage this by furnishing them with the appropriate equipment.
If the class is further away and requires public transport, accompany them on the same journey a couple of times to improve their confidence and make it all more familiar.