Keeping Your Loved One Safe AND Independent

It is difficult for most people to admit that they are in need of help as they age. The thought of giving up ones' independence or the need to rely on someone else for care is not only deflating but can result in a feeling of being dehumanized. As such, there are checkpoints and benchmarks, that as a caregiver, you can assess in making sure your loved one can stay safe while still living independently.

I. Assess your loved one's home environment. Are they safe?

  1. Check to make sure the bathroom is a safe place for them. Most falls happen in and around the bathroom… are there grab bars in the shower? Is the toilet seat at the right height?
  2. Are there area rugs in the home that could cause a fall?
  3. If they use a scooter, rollator or walker, are the ramps appropriately placed to avoid a fall?
  4. When seated on the sofa or chair, can they readily get up? And if not, do they have a standing aid so as not to lose their balance when getting out of a seated position?

II. Are they getting the proper nutrition?

  1. Is the refrigerator and cupboard stocked with nutritional foods and can they easily prepare the food independently?
  2. If your loved one has arthritis or hand tremors, it may difficult for them to eat with a fork or spoon which may result in them skipping meals in order to avoid the struggle.
  3. Make sure that all eating and drinking apparatuses—utensils, plates, bowl and cups are easily accessible and user friendly. If eating, in any way, becomes a chore, the likelihood of your loved one getting the proper nutrition may very well be compromised.

III. Are they taking care of their personal hygiene?

  1. If your loved one has agility issues, make sure they can properly toilet and clean themselves.
  2. If they have arthritic or tremor issues, getting dressed may be a challenge so make sure they are changing their clothes frequently.
  3. Does your loved one bathe often enough? If they find it difficult to do so, make sure they have access to personal care products to help them remain clean and fresh.

Do not forget about the importance of the proper dispensing of their medications! Too often, as one ages, the number of prescribed medications increase, making it difficult to keep track of what needs to be taken when—have some type of medication reminder system to alleviate this concern.