Most older people want to live at home for as long as possible — known as “aging in place.” It can be more comfortable to stay in familiar surroundings and is often more cost effective than moving to a skilled nursing facility.
Here are strategies you can use to help you live at home for as long as possible.
Dealing with Vision Changes
As you grow older, you may experience a loss of your near-sighted vision and changes to your color and depth perception.
You may also need brighter light. In fact, 80-year-olds require 10 times as much light they did in their 20s.
In addition to adequate lighting, there are other ways that you can help to compensate for vision loss:
- Use large print on phones, books, magazines and other household items.
- Look for dark writing on light colors that create a higher visual contrast and can be easier to see.
- Reduce patterns and try to use neutral colors throughout your home.
- Reduce clutter in your house and pay attention to organization.
Working Around the House
Aging is associated with loss of muscle mass and declining muscle strength. This can make it difficult to do strenuous household tasks and may require you to take more frequent and longer rest breaks.
Plan your activities throughout the week to alternate light and heavy tasks:
- Prioritize what tasks need to be done today and what can be done later.
- Maintain a slow, steady pace and avoid rushing.
- Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family members for help with tasks that you struggle with.
Try to use proper body mechanics:
- Be sure to carry heavy items close to your body.
- Bend at the knees rather than at the hips.
- Try to slide larger items instead of carrying them.
Balance issues can make you feel unsteady, and your risk of falling increases as your vision and strength decline.
Take the following steps to avoid falling:
- Reduce clutter.
- Make a clear path to the most utilized areas in your house such as the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
- Remove loose rugs or tack them down to the floor.
- Avoid sitting or leaning on unsteady furniture.
- Install grab bars and use non-slip mats in the bathroom.
- Keep outdoor walkways well lit.
- Keep a cell phone or a Life Alert® close by in case of emergency.
An occupational therapist can also be a great resource as you grow older. Occupational therapists can work with you and your family to maximize your safety and independence. Their recommendations are tailored to your specific needs, skills and environment.
You can find a convenient ChristianaCare location for occupational therapy here.