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How to Help Elderly People Age Independently
Friday, 21 February 2014 09:47

With advances in healthcare, we are living longer lives. Life expectancy for women living in Ireland is currently 83 years of age, while it is 78 for men. As life expectancy increases, so too does the task of helping the elderly age independently. There are many options of aids for the elderly such as hearing aids, medical alarms and pendant alarms to name just a few. There are many things we as a society can do to help elderly people age independently with dignity.

Planning for Emergency Responses

If you are a caregiver to an elderly person, a family member, a friend or a next door neighbour, you no doubt will have concerns about their health. Foremost in your mind will be what to do in case of an emergency. Pre-planning can alleviate any worries you might have so that you are safe in the knowledge that a plan is in place which can have positive outcomes. The best thing to do it to equip the elderly person with a personal alarm. A pendant alarm is an extremely useful system where the elderly person can press the pendant if they are having difficulty and (depending on the type of pendant it is) will either generate a phone call to the elderly person from your caregiver, or an emergency response. Some personal alarms also include GPS tracking, which can be extremely useful if they have had a fall and cannot describe where they are.

Scheduling Regular Health Checks

Knowing what medicines an elderly person takes is important. Getting them a colour coded pill box or one that has each day of the week on it can help alleviate any confusion. By encouraging them to fill it at the beginning of each week, it allows them to be in control of their own medication. Getting them a diary and putting up a calendar with all their medical appointments in their home will help them remember appointments. Installing a health app on their mobile phone to remind them of appointments can be helpful, especially if they have to actively turn it off.  Encouraging them to be social and join a senior’s low impact exercise class like yoga can also help them.

Implementing Changes in their Home

Three key rooms to consider to implement the most useful and effective changes, include the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom.

For Bathrooms:

  • Install a rail next to the toilet to help them stand up
  • Install a higher non slip toilet seat cover
  • Have a bell or emergency alarm at arm’s reach
  • Install a shower rail and make sure there is a non-slip mat

For Kitchens:

  • Lower shelves where necessary so they don’t have to stretch
  • Place all the food items they use regularly at the front of cupboards
  • Invest in a slow cooker with an automatic timer
  • Mop floors for them, so they don’t slip on spills

For Bedrooms:

  • Move lamps close to the bed so they don’t have to get up
  • Remove any loose items on the floor to avoid falls
  • Ensure lights are full working and have spare light bulbs close by

Home Delivery Services

Ensuring an elderly person has access to food and supplies is instrumental in their well-being.  Driving to their local supermarket can be a huge challenge for them, teaching them how to use the internet for home shopping can hugely help them. Many online shopping baskets can be saved and re-ordered each time with minimum fuss and delivered directly to their door. If the person is in need, register them with any local ‘Meals on Wheels’ association so that someone is calling to the house and making sure they have a hot meal.


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