More and more senior citizens are choosing to live alone and aging in place in their older years. This movement towards independence is wonderful but causes some apprehension from families. Here are four tips to give your family peace of mind about you living independently.
Have an Emergency Plan
Sit down with your family and create emergency plans for different scenarios such as fire, falling down, medical emergency and natural disasters. Have emergency numbers such as poison control, your healthcare provider’s office, family members and neighbors, easily accessible. For each scenario, outline ways to recognize the emergency, what your first step should be, prioritize who you would call first and even ways to avoid the emergency all together.
For example, in the case of a fall when you’re home alone, recognize that you could be injured and should remain where you are instead of injuring yourself further by standing up and potentially falling again. Invest in a special alarm bracelet or necklace like Life Alert that is constantly on your body, making you one button away from emergency attention. To avoid potentially fatal falls in your home, make modifications to your home making it easier for you to maneuver and providing you with supportive structures and footing.
Install Home Modifications
One of the biggest dangers an independent senior faces at home is falling down and being unable to get up. Besides maintaining a moderate level of fitness by staying active and eating healthy, installing home modifications that make daily activities easier and safer can reduce your chances of taking a fall. If you have stairs, install a second handrail to provide better support while ascending and descending. In the bathroom, non-slip mats, hand rails and a bathtub chair provide security. Invest in a home security solution, such as WiFi cameras, that provides you or your family members the ability to monitor the activity in and around their house for extra eyes in the event of an emergency.
Run a Tight Ship
Organization is very important for senior citizens living alone. By developing a system and routine in your home, you develop habits and are less likely to forget medication, misplace essentials or miss doctor appointments. Organize your medication into a pill container that separates it by day of the week and even time of day. Always take your medication at the same time every day to avoid forgetting it. Store your essentials in a designated location, specifically next to the front door, so you’re not always looking for your keys and wallet on the way out of the house.
Take it a step further and invest in a Bluetooth tracker that you place on your keys, wallet and anything that’s important, then track it using an app on a smartphone or tablet. Have a big calendar hanging in a high traffic area where you jot down doctor appointments, meetings, visits, bill deadlines and anything else big or small that could slip your mind.
One of the most overlooked dangers of living independently at an older age is loneliness and seclusion. Stay connected with other senior citizens in your neighborhood or at the local senior citizen center. Senior citizen centers offer daily activities, day trips, relaxation courses, fitness classes and harbor a great community for senior citizens who live independently but still want to stay social. Staying connected isn’t only fun, it’s great for your mental and physical health as well.