How do we make our homes safer for the elderly?

March 08

It is a rather obvious fact that as you age, your body is unable to maintain its physical fitness that you had during your younger years. Although it has also been proven that some of the elderly manage to retain their finesse and grace by doing exercises that promote stamina, most of them eventually develop certain conditions or illnesses over time. Some of these conditions or illnesses may affect one or some of the five senses in the body and this will eventually lead to injury hazard. For example, the deterioration of sight and sound will cause the elderly to not be able to see or hear hazard warnings as clearly as before and eventually leave them vulnerable to danger. Therefore, it is very important to ensure your loved one is kept in a hazard-free environment while ensuring they are comfortable at the same time. Considering the fact that most of the elderly population likes to stay at their respective homes, their home is the most ideal environment to begin safety regulations. Even though they may know where everything is at home, however many accidents tend to happen due to clumsiness or letting your guard down at potential household hazards.

  • Fall-proof bathrooms
    Installing grab bars or handrails in the bathrooms can help prevent falls if there were to be water slips or in case of sudden drowsiness. Besides that, wall-mount shower heads can be replaced with handheld shower heads on a hose as a safer measure. This helps to prevent water from suddenly splashing on their heads which could give them a severe shock. Even if they were able to monitor the water flow by continuously looking up, it wouldn’t be a good thing either because the water might splash into their eyes upon turning on the shower.
  • Floor safety
    The floors should not be slick or slippery during times when your loved one might want to walk around to do their daily activities. Even if maintenance needs to be done on the floors such as waxing, polishing or mopping, the elderly in the home should be notified to prevent them from walking around too much. Rugs or loose mats that may tangle the feet or have low amount of frictional force against the floor should also be disposed off. Contrasting colour mats should also be used to aid the elderly in differentiating areas to step on e.g. white mats on a black or brown parquet floor. Extension cords and other potential tripping hazards that may present themselves on the floor should also be kept away safely.
  • Lighting
    The house should be well illuminated in order to aid the elderly vision as their sight deteriorates with age. However this does not necessarily mean changing the entire house into a light shop and becoming the brightest house in the neighbourhood! Instead, carry out regular check-ups and maintenance to ensure the house lights are functioning well. Adding more lights in areas that your loved ones frequent can also help e.g. if they enjoy sewing then add more lighting into the sewing room or areas in the house that they frequent. This may be done by also observing your love one’s walking habits to know which areas do they directly or indirectly pass through a lot at home. Another more innovative approach is by installing wireless LED lights that detect motion as you pass through different parts of the house. Although some may say adding more lighting to the house will increase the electricity bill after some time, the real question here is would you rather pay a double or triple digit cost increase in electricity bill or a ten to hundredfold cost in medical bills?

Special devices
Although most family members are hesitant about leaving their elderly loved one at home alone and personally would prefer to have a caregiver around to help, some of the elderly population prefer to have their own independence. In situations like these, special devices may be installed around the house to ensure the safety of the elderly. For example, a door monitoring system or CCTV may be added to the front gate to ensure that your loved one is not exposed to any strangers or con artists upon responding to the doorbell. Besides that, a medical device should also be given in case of emergency health situations e.g. if your loved one suffers from occasional asthma attacks. The medical device can trigger a call which will alert paramedics as well as contain a GPS system in case your loved one has fallen unconscious and is unable to respond. Smoke detectors can also be installed in the kitchen if your elderly loves to cook a lot. This is helpful as some recipes passed down from generations may require lots of cooking methods that might produce too much smoke that is dangerous in addition to the hot weather in Malaysia nowadays.

More about Home Caregiving:

Self-care for Caregivers. Guest blog by care expert, Harry Cline

Caregiving is rewarding but stressful. According to a 2015 study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute, nearly 40 million U.S. adults have provided unpaid care for another adult in the past 12 months.

Because caregiving carries a unique set of challenges that can wreak havoc on your body, spirit, and mental health, treat yourself with kindness when feelings of anger, stress, frustration, and depression threaten to overwhelm you and cause burnout.

Those emotions are normal — and when you’re stressed, it’s important not to self-medicate with addictive substances but rather to take a step back. Breathe. Give yourself permission to step away and take care of yourself.

Signs It’s Time to Take a Break to Prevent Burnout

If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to step away for a little while.

  • Exhaustion

  • Forgetfulness

  • Anxiety or depression

  • Stomach issues, headaches, or other physical symptoms of stress

  • Increased illnesses

  • Using substances to self-medicate

Why Self-Care Is Essential

You might be an able-bodied “I’ve got it together” person who’s capable of doing it all. However, that doesn’t mean you should. There’s no shame in asking for help. Otherwise:

  1. You may not be able to care for your loved one. When you neglect your own self-care, your health can diminish, leaving you unable to act as a caregiver.

  2. Your quality of life may decrease and you may lose friends, especially if you’re part of the “sandwich generation,” where you’re raising a family and taking care of an older parent and have little time to spare.

  3. You might not live as long. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people experience caregiver stress and strain are 63 percent more likely to die prematurely than non-caregivers.

Give Yourself Permission to Be Selfish

Has it been so long since you thought about yourself that you’re not sure where to start? Feeling guilty about spending too much time on self-care? These ideas may help.

Take regular breaks. Whether you’re spending the majority of a day caring for someone else or working a full-time job and then assuming caregiving duties in the evening, take breaks throughout the day and evening.

Stay active. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of activity three or more times a week. Hit the gym for a spin class. Schedule an evening “walk date” with your partner, neighbor, or friends. Want something a little more low-key to help you relax? Try yoga or tai chi.

Eat well. It’s so tempting to grab and live on fast food when you’re rushing from one place to the next. But healthy, nutritious food keeps your energy up, boosts your immune system, and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Sleep. Don’t skip sleep -- it’s critical to feeling well physically, mentally, and emotionally. Create a sleep routine that works for you; if you’re feeling cramped on time, claim the hour or 30 minutes before you sleep as yours for a warm bath, a cup of tea, meditation, or a good book.

Stay connected to friends. Laughter’s the best medicine — it’s cliche, but true. And sometimes, it’s all that keeps you from crying. Reach out to your tribe and build your network. Even if it’s a flurry of funny texts or a running conversation on Facebook Messenger, it’s a connection to the outside world that keeps you from feeling isolated.

Take time off. Don’t feel guilty about asking for help. That includes connecting with an agency that provides respite care or coordinating and sharing caregiving duties with other family members, trusted friends, or members of your church community, for example. Time away to do something you love gives you an opportunity to recharge and refresh your whole self.

Need other suggestions? Check out these self-care tips designed to help you avoid caregiver burnout. For additional resources on caregiving, whether you’re preparing to start or have cared for someone for a while, visit this site, which lists organizations with a wealth of information on supporting those who need help while not neglecting your own self-care.


Harry Cline is creator of and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

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June 08

Fun things caregivers can do with elderly to keep their bodies and minds active

There comes a time in everyone’s lives when they start aging and eventually are forced to retire at a certain age whether by choice or from the lack of characteristics they once had. When the time comes though, most of the elderly population tend to have more free time in their hands to carry out many activities daily. However, even if they have all that free time to spend, they might not possess the physical or mental strength they used to have in their younger years to enjoy such activities anymore (e.g. extreme sports or exercises). In addition to that, as mentioned in previous blog posts, as you age your health may start to decline and many illnesses or conditions may present themselves and affect your body. Most families that face this problem tend to hire a caregiver to take care of their loved one while the family members go out to work or carry out their daily responsibilities. With that being said, some elderly citizens do not have illnesses or conditions that leave them bedridden but are just in need of some company from the caregiver while they continue being independent. Therefore, a certain level of cooperation is required from both the caregiver and the one being cared for to ensure both parties are satisfied and happy with each other in doing what they want. Here are some fun things caregivers can do with the elderly to keep their bodies and minds active while maintaining a healthy relationship with each other.

  • Outdoor activities
    Staying cooped up at home for long periods of time without much to do is not a healthy choice of life and may lead to depression in some severe cases. Whether your loved one is a physically active person or not, it is good to enjoy the great outdoors once in a while and breathe some fresh air for a change. They do not necessarily have to do any heavy duty activities like hiking or cycling but simple activities like taking a walk, doing some tai chi or gardening would be beneficial to the body. Although some people are worried that their elderly loved ones will be more prone to injuries in the outdoors, outdoor activities can actually strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of falling. In addition to that, the caregiver can assist or keep an eye on your loved one to ensure they do not get harmed in any way.

  • Socializing
    As you get older you tend to reminisce on the good times in your life, and more often than not you start to wonder about your friends or relatives that you were once close to, but rarely keep in touch now. Free time from either retirement or recovery periods can be used to re-establish friendships with former acquaintances. Your loved one can be encouraged to get in touch with their old friends and have meetups over tea or meals with the aid of a caregiver. This helps to make them feel less isolated, from being left with a caregiver, as well as to improve their morale and self-esteem.

  • Arts and crafts
    Most of the senior citizens in this era usually come from a generation that have either lived with less technology or have gone went through a period of technological transition over the years. This eventually led them to cultivate hobbies such as gardening, drawing, sewing, knitting and many more. Motivating your loved ones to try arts and crafts will promote creativity and bring back the nostalgia of their childhood days. Even if arts and crafts were not part of their childhood years, it is a good time to start learning or trying new things. This new learning adventure could lead them to make nice presents during the festive seasons, or even better still, to initiate a new business opportunity during their golden years!

  • Games and puzzles

Caregivers can engage senior citizens by challenging them to a few board games or puzzles to keep their minds active. Most board games or puzzles produced by companies are usually user-friendly and have relatively simple rules or game instructions that is not difficult for the elderly to follow. Another plus point would be that most of them are pretty portable to bring around so they can be played anywhere and with anyone.

May 14