Ideas to keep your senior safe at home by francy Dickinson
Dear Francy; Mother seems to have weak legs and she has fallen a few times just getting out of her chair. I have tried to get her to exercise but she will not do anything without me doing it with her. Do you have ideas?
Boy, do I get it! It seems that seniors get into a place that doing anything on their own, is a danger or confusion.Their way of coping is to stay put…in their chair. So, you will find that more and more you will have to insert yourself into their daily routine. Now, if they are in your home…we can work with it…but if they are in their home…you have to increase your visits to a minimum of three to four times a week. I would say…every other day is a must for seniors that are showing signs of worry or disorientation and the visits should last two hours. So plan to either do it yourself or have other family or paid help; set up a schedule to check on your senior.
The problem I had; I and my senior mother and later my husband were not well to do. We did not have funds to have others do the general “check-in” care. This is the real first stage of caregiving for your seniors. It can creep up on you and last for a couple of years before the problems increase so much that you need to bring the senior into your own home, move in with them, find a live-in boarder or find a place they can live, safely.
Don’t panic…not all seniors have the need for “over-see visits” so often. My dear friend, Kim has parents in their 90’s and they do well on their own. But their meals are getting dicey. It’s really hard for elders to cook and or cook well. Remember a banana and peanut butter is not a meal!!! So she took care of the problem with food delivery…I have asked her to do a blog for us. She will tell you her hints and tricks – in a later post 😉
So back to the falling problem. There are so many things you can do and I have talked about it often in my blogs. Please go up to the top of the page; in the search box — type in Falling….it will bring up other ideas from other posts.
Now, I learned a neat thing from a physical therapy person, years ago. The calf muscles are very important to prevent falls. And it does not take a fancy daily exercise routine to change them. But the every-other-day of movement (for the calf muscles) will keep them stronger. When you think about it…the calf muscles do work our legs….so let us talk exercise.
- CALF MUSCLES: With legs straight, up on the ottoman or lounger chair lifted-up position. (And Or) while they are laying in bed with legs straight, works too. Senior takes turn pointing feet and then pulling them up into a flex foot position. Really point and really flex, no pansy stuff, the calf muscle has to work on this one. Do this for a count of 20. Down, up, down, up and keep the legs straight as they do this exercise. Then switch to the feet making outside circles with the ankles. Count of 20. Then circle them in the opposite direction; turning them inside for 20 rounds. Just get them to do this as often as they can, once a day…great…a few times a day…like each time they go to the bathroom and return to their chair they repeat is fab!
The second set; is to go in the kitchen. Morning is perfect for this calf stretch. Hold onto the counter with both hands. Perfect to do when you are waiting for your water to heat for coffee or tea to be ready. Face the sink and hold onto the counter and have your feet under your hips with legs straight, then just sink down about five inches and then straighten up …down and up. In Ballet its a demi-plie or small dip. Feet stay flat on the floor and your bottom is tucked under. You or the senior just dips down and straightens up. Continue this for 20 counts. This is a routine that you can do with them ….or call them on their cell and do it via face to face each day. You can do it every other day…or daily. It will be a remarkable change in those muscles for such a small time and energy output. Remember to make it your thing; “they” are helping YOU to remember to move. Seniors respond to helping you easier than thinking you are helping them. Participate with a smile and a cheerleader voice tone…not a nasty you are a pain in the bottom voice tone!
- OVERALL EXERCISES: There are many exercises that you can use for your senior so, make an appointment with a physical therapy person to give you about five or ten a day for your senior – it really helps. There is another thing that people forget. Ask your doctor to give you a prescription (Medicare, Medicaid and or insurance should help with this billing) for an Occupational Therapist to visit the senior’s home, or where they are living. You must be there when this happens. It will rock your caregiving boat! The OT will go around the house and make suggestions on how to help your senior. They will point out places to add handles on the wall to steady the senior with movement transitions. Like the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. They will change the path the senior uses to walk around the house. They may want their TV chair moved or things removed from the carpet or cupboards in the kitchen. This is a gift of experienced eyes to you and your senior. PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!
OK now that you have done the basics. Let’s chat about a change that even I do these days. It’s getting your senior; man or woman, a little basket, tray or caddy next to their favorite chair. Here you can see that I have a box on top of a small table top drawer. I keep things inside that I need. My notebook, pens, scissors, lip gloss, Kindle, TV remote, etc. This means that once I sit down to watch TV or read, I am in my chair relaxed. I don’t have to jump up for Q-tips, or my tea, I have it at my fingertips. This means CALM..less stress, less up and down from my chair. This means less chance of falls. It also means a calming. The senior knows where the little personal creams, tissues or notes are kept. Their own spot for their own things. No losing things or hunting for them. Less stress, fewer worries, less opportunity to fall getting-up to find often used items. This was a key calm button for both my mother and my Georgie…and now me! I live alone now and need to be aware of my own safety.
Its often just little fixes that make a big difference to caregiving for your senior. Things that bring them calm are of high value. Getting them to make a thermos of coffee or tea to keep next to their chair so they can top off their hot drink without running to the kitchen. A special place for the remote that keeps it safe not lost on a daily basis. A place to put their cell phone and a place for their pills. I know that each home is designed for special appearance and this might totally change the “Look” of the living room or bedroom suite. But you have to “Think” what is going to work, not what is going to look pretty. You can do it….it may be another project when you are juggling a busy life, but its time well spent. Get your senior’s input for the chair caddy. You can use a basket or purse organizational caddy but get something that the senior will be able to see and lift to find their goodies inside.
I want to appreciate and thank you for your kindness to your senior. As I age and live alone, I would love to have someone to call for help. But I have lost my immediate family. So, its even more important for me to be prepared, not be afraid to ask for help and to know how to call for help if or when I might need it. Life changes; we all are marching ahead and have to face this in my own daily routine. Often seniors forget how lucky they are to have the blessings and thank you, for all you do…francy