Lifestyle Changes To Help Seniors Age In Place

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This article was written exclusively for our Senior Care Therapy readers, by our good friend Sheila Olson of fitsheila.

At Senior Care Therapy, we enable senior living facilities to care for the clinical and psychological well-being of their residents by partnering with them to supply additional nurse practitioners to help care for their residents.

In fact, our Nurse Practitioners enhance the overall quality of care by filling the gaps in the existing psychological and clinical services. Facilities we work with report that this results in improved health and higher levels of resident satisfaction – as well as fewer medical emergencies and hospitalizations.

We are so good at what we do here at Senior Care Therapy, that residents will tell us that our interventions have allowed them to thrive – physically, psychologically and emotionally, to the same degree as when they were living at home.

However, the reality is that not every baby boomer or aging senior is ready to live in a skilled nursing environment, under any conditions.

The question is, what are the options available to these folks?

If you’re one of the millions of Baby Boomers set to retire between now and 2030, you may have given thought to where, exactly, you’d like to do just that. There are many options, including moving in with adult children and renting an apartment in an independent or assisted living community. Neither of these, however, lends well to the independent nature that Boomers are known for. The vast majority of today’s seniors would prefer to remain at home.

Even if you’re not in perfect health, it is possible to age in place gracefully.

It’s Time for a Change

If you plan to live in your current home at 65 and beyond, it may be necessary to make a few changes throughout the house that will help you stay independent. If you live in a single-story home, you’re already ahead of the game and won’t have the hazard of stairs. However, when you have a multi-level dwelling, it’s time to start considering ways to re-organized so that your main living space is grouped together on the ground floor.

As such, consider moving your bedroom downstairs, and if you don’t have a full bathroom on the main level, find a contractor and get this done sooner rather than later. Other renovations to consider include minor upgrades like putting grab bars in the bathroom, intermediate additions such as building a wheelchair ramp, and renovating small areas to accommodate a walker or other mobility aid. If you have known health problems, it’s wise to invest in a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help no matter where you are in your home.

Many upgrades will require tools and experience beyond what you likely have as a homeowner. Before bringing in a contractor, do your research and ask for recommendations from friends and family. How To Home offers more advice on the process of outsourcing to a professional.

Stay Active

You can change your home to a more suitable environment, but you also need to pay attention to your health. When it comes to living independently, your mobility is your biggest asset… or liability. Implementing a new exercise routine, even if you’ve never been particularly active, is the best way to help improve your overall fitness, especially your balance and mobility. But don’t be alarmed; you don’t have to jump headfirst into a vigorous exercise routine. Gentle exercises that work the muscles, bones, and joints are easy to handle at any age. One example is an activity called an ankle flexion. Health Central offers instructions on how to do these and many other mobility-improving exercises that you can do at any age.

Most experts recommend that seniors get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. The bulk of this should be at least moderate aerobic activities, which are those that elevate your heart rate and intensify your breathing. A brisk walk through the neighborhood or a water aerobics class at your local fitness center a few times each week can fulfill these requirements.

Know Your Risk

According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors have many falling risks. These include foot problems, muscle weakness, and prescription medications. Talk to your doctor and evaluate factors in your personal life that could increase your chances of having an accident at home. By knowing what you face, put yourself in a better position to take steps now that will allow you to enjoy more independence later down the road.

Keeping yourself healthy and active is essential to maintaining your independence. But even if you’re in perfect health, making changes to your home now will only benefit you moving forward. Know your risks so you don’t head into your golden years unprepared to live on your own terms.

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