Most research indicates that most aging seniors would prefer to say at home. To do that, seniors need help. What services do seniors need most? Here is our list of the top 10 senior needs:
- Personal Care
- Physical Activity
Top 10 most common needs of aging seniors
Nearly half of seniors over 65 need help with routine daily activities. Most often it is performed by friends and family. In the United States, that means that almost 20 million people need help with what were routine activities when they were younger. The list includes things like handling medications, bathing, and even shopping.
The need for mobility is two-fold. As we age, sometimes getting around our homes can be a challenge even if we are ambulatory. It is even more of a challenge if the time comes that we need to use canes, walkers, or even wheelchairs. Safety has to be the top priority. Aids like handrails, shower chairs, grab bars, and bed rails can help. Get rid of throw rugs. After 65, they should be renamed fall rugs.
Above all, stay safe!
Managing medications begins with proper medical care. Proper medical care is not just about doctor visits. It also includes dental care, foot care, physical therapy, and/or mental therapy.
It seems like the number of medications I take doubles every time I make a doctor visit. Personally, I went from a 1 x 7 pill counter, to a 2 x 7 pill counter, and now I use a 4 x 7 pill counter. It helps me to count out my medications once a week. In addition, I can tell at a glance if I have taken my medications or not. That’s a good thing. I’m sure the time will come when I will need help counting out my pills or even taking them on time. I’m not there yet.
There is a new development that might be particularly helpful for seniors. They have several different names but most likely you will hear them referenced as “pill packs.” Some pharmacies now have the capability to pack all of your medications by day and time rather than by medication. It makes managing medications far easier. An added bonus is that the pill pack is usually far easier to open than prescription bottles. Ask your pharmacist if the service is available where you buy your prescriptions and other medications.
I had to be the one to take away my mother’s car and my father-in-law’s car. My mom didn’t know it was time. My father in law did. He had told me, many years earlier, that I needed to do it even if he fought “like a bugger” to use his words. Fortunately, it was not necessary. In fact, things went quite smoothly in both cases.
Now, I’m wondering who it will be that will take away my driving privileges. Right now, I am good for this week but who knows about next week and beyond.
Unfortunately, we grew up as a mobile society. Getting our driver’s license and then our first car was a right of passage for our generation. In America, the automobile is part of our identity. When the time comes for us to no longer use a car, we lose far more than just mobility and flexibility. Have a friend, relative, or even paid caregiver who can get us out to shopping, doctors’ appointments, and even social excursions will help ease the blow to our psyche.
Make sure you make substitute transportation a part of your regular health care reviews. Transportation is too important to your overall health and well being to ignore.
Personal care often gets lost in the shuffle of senior needs. The time will come when we may need help bathing, dressing, and personal grooming. A family member or a home health aid can help with these tasks, if necessary.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in other articles on this page, I was my wife’s primary care provider for over 15 years. One of the hardest things to do was to help my wife brush her teeth. I don’t think I ever did get it right.
Don’t overlook the simple things in your own or your loved one’s care.
As one who enjoys a meal as much as the next person and more, I have always been surprised to see a senior near me lose their appetite. Personally, I can’t see that ever happening to me, but nutrition is a very real issue for many aging seniors.
But, everyone needs proper nutrition to stay healthy and enjoy a comfortable life. Have a nutritionist or caregiver go over a daily meal plan to know what foods best fit that person’s lifestyle. Meals can be prepared weekly so it is easier for the senior citizen to heat and eat a warm meal every day. Programs such as Meals on Wheels ensure that an elderly person receives at least one healthy meal daily. Senior centers often provide daily noontime means as well. My personal experience is that not all senior center meals are created equal. Check out the senior center near you and make your own decisions.
Now, as I look in the rearview mirror of life, I often wonder if I did a good job as my wife’s primary care provider. I understand that it is easy to second guess ourselves in circumstances like these. One area I think I fell short was in providing companionship and socializing over the long haul.
It helped that we had women from our church drop by occasionally. They were wonderful. I finally put a log book together to see who had visited during the day so I could keep track of who had visited. I wanted to thank them later. Annette’s memory had eroded somewhat and she often wouldn’t remember those friends and even sometimes her own children who had visited. I wanted to make sure that I thanked everyone.
Looking back, I don’t think I got her out enough to socialize and visit. I needed to help her maintain old relationships and make new relationships. Relationships are essential to healthy living. Aging seniors need help socializing.
If you find yourself in the same type of circumstances as Annette was, don’t be shy. Speak up. Tell your care planner and care providers that you need to get out and see the sun every once in a while. It’s a shame that often aging seniors become timid about their needs. They/we don’t want to bother anyone. Get over it. Your life will improve.
Routines can be anchors and sources of comfort for aging seniors. Family and care providers need to team up to help keep routines in place.
Seniors appreciate being honored with respect. I do and I am sure you do, too. Whether you are the aging senior who needs help or the care provider, respect is very important. How do you show respect? First, don’t talk down to an aging senior. Communicate with them as equals. Second, don’t talk with others as if they were not there. Very disrespectful. Third, unless they are a close relative, address them with proper titles unless invited to do otherwise.
There’s no place like home, and wherever senior citizens stay, their comfort should always be a top priority. As they start to spend more time indoors than they used to, physical comfort becomes more and more important. Comfortable surroundings. Comfortable conversation. Comfortable clothing.
Staying active can be difficult for senior citizens, but it’s more important than ever. Whether they’re playing sports, going for walks, or doing simple exercises from their chair, physical activity is hugely beneficial. It releases feel-good hormones and keeps health problems at bay, taking care of physical and mental health.
I bought a set of CDs on chair exercises. They have been sitting on the kitchen counter for a month since Amazon delivered them. So far, they have not done me a bit of good. And, that is the essence of the challenge of getting started with a physical activity program as an aging senior.
Of course, before you start any new physical activity program, you should consult your health care professional.
How to hire in-home services for seniors
Hiring in-home service providers can be a challenge. Don’t rely solely on an interview with the care provider or a salesperson from the company that provides the care providers.
Here’s a five-step process to tip the odds in your favor:
|Talk to the senior||You want to talk with the senior for two reasons. The first reason is that it is very important to be on the same page early in the process as to what services are actually needed. Second, and probably more important, it helps the aging senior like they are part of the process. Otherwise, it feels like that it is something that is being “done to them” rather than for them.|
|Make a list of the needed services||It will be hard to compare services between providers if you don’t have this list in hand when you talk with them.|
|Get referrals||This is the most important step of all. Do not – I repeat – do not hire anyone or any company without checking on references. And don’t just check one. Check at least three. It is harder to check out friends and family members but they should not be beyond scrutiny, either.|
|Track the provider’s performance||I used a notebook to track care providers. To get paid, they had to log in, note the services provided, and log out. Don’t hesitate to drop by during scheduled visits to make sure that the care provider is there and they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Trust, but verify.|
|Talk to the senior||Your aging senior may not say anything without being prompted, but ask them how the visit went. Ask open-ended questions like, “what did Sarah do while she visited you today?” rather than just, “how did it go today?”|
Products that make life easier for aging seniors
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