This article was published in Wellness Matters, A Daily Journal Publication, Nov. / Dec. 2012 Vol.3 by Karl Power
Around every corner, life presents opportunities and challenges. And since we don’t have the luxury of knowing our future, it’s important that we prepare as best we can for whatever lies ahead.
Most of us will live to be Seniors (65+) and by choice, enjoy our golden years in our own homes. The reasons are sound; comfort, familiar surroundings, routines, memories, and cherished friendships. If our homes are paid for, this scenario provides a cost effective way of living in retirement.
As time passes, needs change, and we’ll all be required to make modest but important improvements to our plans for personal health, as well as the physical surroundings that will support us through the years.
Physical Agility and Ability
For those who find good habits hard to keep, it’s unfortunate that the old adage, “use it or lose it” seems to ring true. With this in mind, it’s imperative to keep moving; daily walks, stretching, and range of motion repetitions help keep muscles and joints active and lubricated. Most gyms and Senior centers provide group exercise programs for different age groups, strength and levels of flexibility. These are simple steps you can take on your own to stay agile and able.
Just as you may hire outside help to maintain the cleanliness of your house or lawn and garden, there are professionals in key areas that can help build and support programs for diet, exercise and personal care.
A dietician can help you decide what to keep in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer to prepare easy, healthy meals. They may also assist with blood testing to evaluate potential allergies or inflammatory foods.
Occupational therapists can help assess what equipment you may need to maintain independence, i.e. room layout, showering techniques and furniture that supports you. They may also do a simple test, called a COPM, which measures personal satisfaction with a number of functions; gait, strength, and the ability to independently handle your daily activities, from which they design a custom program just for you!
Physical therapists can help design a fitness program tailored to you in your own home and train family members or caregivers that are part of your daily life. Therapists are trained to identify possible stress points to avoid injury.
Adapting Your Home
“Universal Design” focuses on safety and functionality of homes for Seniors and those with disabilities. Designers and builders in this field focus on these aspects and more:
1) modifying light switches to allow for remote access,
2) adding grab bars in bathrooms,
3) non-slip, easy access, sit-down showers,
4) specially-designed rugs to offset declining depth perception, 5) kitchen modifications to accommodate compromised physical ability (wheelchair access), and 6) replacing steps with graded ramps.
Last but certainly not least, the maintenance of a positive attitude is key in aging well at home. We can all benefit from staying busy, engaging in hobbies, visiting with friends, eating-out, going to or watching movies, taking walks, and enjoying family.
The statistics are in our favor. 90% of us will enjoy our wisdom years in our homes. The more we plan and take the necessary steps to ensure we have the best possible support, will increases our chance of enjoying maximum physical and mental independence.
~ Karl Power, CEO of Active In-Home Therapy