Tailor the environment to fit the person
Think about how much the person can do. If mobility is a problem, bring the activities they’re interested in closer to them. If things can’t be moved all that close, research tools or gadgets that allow the person to reach things more safely—like a grabber tool to reach items on a shelf, or a sock aid to help put them on without bending over.
Prevent falls and promote safety
Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injuries and loss of independence. Make sure the environment is well lit, not cluttered, and not dangerous.
- Remove throw rugs, clutter, and other tripping hazards
- Put railings on all stairs and grab bars in the bathroom
- Have good lighting, especially on stairs
A consultation with an occupational therapist can help you assess the person’s capacity, the environment, and recommend assistive devices. There is a remarkable range of aids available to promote greater safety and independence among older persons, including:
- Walk-in tubs
- Handheld showerheads
- Non-slip bathtub appliques
- Bathing chairs
- Bath boards
- Long-handled sponges
- Grab bars
- Raised toilet seats
Reach out for support
As a person’s capacity for independent activities diminishes, you can enlist others to help lighten the load. Friends, neighbors, community and care organizations are all good options to help with cooking, cleaning, yard work, finances, and social visits.
Practice patience and compassion
Focus on what’s important rather than what the person used to do or be able to do. Respect their dignity. Think of yourself as a partner whose role is to create a safe environment that promotes as much activity and independence as possible—to help ensure that they’re living the life they want to live.
Video, “Alzheimers: Household Tips for Caregivers,” https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/video/tips-for-caregivers, last accessed 9/14/20