Celebrating Older Americans Month
All of us at HCAN are proud to join others across the country to celebrate Older Americans Month – recognizing the important contributions seniors make in our communities.
Led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the theme for this year’s celebration is Age My Way – focusing on the many ways we can help older loved ones who want to remain in their homes as they age.
“Every senior is unique, so there’s no right or wrong way to the age,” said Mark Goetz, co-founder, and president of the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “But an overwhelming majority of seniors have one thing in common – they want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.”
To help aging loved ones age safely in place, Goetz recommends families consider the following solutions:
Simple Home Modifications
Between the kitchen, bathroom, and stairs, there are plenty of potential safety hazards and problem areas for seniors with limited mobility or cognitive issues. To help your senior overcome some of those challenges:
- Install grab bars near the toilet and in the tub or shower
- Place non-skid mats and a chair or bench in the shower
- Add handrails on both sides of every stairway
- Move small kitchen appliances, so they’re within easy reach
- Install pull-out shelves and/or open shelving in the kitchen so it’s easy to access dishes, tools, cookware, etc.
- Replace hardwood, laminate, or tile flooring with carpet in every room to reduce the risk of slipping
- Make sure there is adequate lighting and install nightlights to help guide the way after dark
- Replace doorknobs and faucets with lever handles
Technology has evolved to offer affordable, easy-to-use products that can help your loved ones maintain their independence, including:
- Safety-related products, such as Ring and Nest, offer everything from video doorbells to smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Devices like Amazon Echo, Alexa allow seniors or family members to adjust the thermostat, and tracklists, and perform other tasks. The devices can also be programmed to notify a family member if your senior doesn’t check-in by a predetermined time in the morning or call for help if a fall or other crisis occurs.
- Medication management technologies, such as MedMinder, are helpful for older adults who take multiple medications or those who might have some degree of memory loss.
- Communication tools, like smartphones and tablets, can help keep your senior connected with friends and family – reducing the risk of loneliness and isolation.
If home modifications and technology don’t give you the peace of mind you need, you might want to consider employing a professional caregiver – someone who can provide companionship, help with shopping and meals, assist with personal care and more.
“At HCAN, we understand the challenges that come with caring for aging loved ones, and we’re here to help,” Goetz said. “No one can do it all, and when you can’t be there, we can. Whether it’s a few hours a week or 24/7, we will work with you to develop a customized care plan that meets your family’s unique needs.”
For more information about Older American’s Month and the Administration for Community Living, visit https://acl.gov/.