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How to help people live independently later in life

| Health and Lifestyle

Getting older does not have to mean giving up a home or much-loved freedoms. Here are our tips for helping someone stay independent so they can live life on their own terms.

It’s natural to think more about our loved ones’ health and well-being as they get older. Health or mobility challenges could mean they begin to struggle. But they still want to stay independent and in control of their lives.

It’s not always easy to know when they need or want help – or how to go about providing the right kind of support.

The good news is there are things you can do to make it easier for them to stay independent and safe at home.

How to tell whether someone needs help

It can be hard for anyone to keep on top of everything at home. But for someone who is becoming less mobile, or losing the energy or mental capacity to keep up with it all, it can become hard.

Here are some signs that they could be struggling:

● Is their house dirtier or untidier than usual?
● Are they less willing to move about the house or go up or downstairs?
● Have they lost interest in hobbies and interests, or become less socially active?

If so, you could set up a rota between family and friends to help them stay on top of things.

Or, if they agree, you could consider hiring a cleaner. Be sure you find someone you trust, who is recommended and who you can get to know.

Making a home safer

There are many ways to make their home safer. These could include:

● Adding handrails in the shower to reduce the risk of slipping
● Moving regularly used kitchen items, such as plates and mugs, to cupboards that are easier to reach
● Checking rugs are secure and don’t pose a trip hazard
● Improving lighting – think about the hallway and outside paths used when emptying the bins, for example
● Fixing any hazards such as uneven tiles and steps in the garden
● Installing a stairlift or a lift if stairs become too much or too hazardous. New lift designs are compact and can easily be fitted in homes, although they do take longer to plan and cost more to install than a stairlift as they need building work.

Helping with personal hygiene

Even when a person is mobile and able to access bathrooms without difficulty, incontinence issues can arise, and affect their comfort and confidence. There is a wide range of products available that offer protection and ensure they feel clean, confident and comfortable whether they're at home or out and about.

The benefits of a personal alarm

Personal alarms can also be reassuring for loved ones and their families. They provide 24/7 support and emergency assistance in case of falls, accidents, a fire or if a person feels unwell.

Usually worn as a pendant or watch, pressing a button on the alarm will connect them to an emergency response team who can then arrange help whether that’s contacting a family member or notifying the emergency services.

Keeping in contact

It’s important for everyone to be able to reach someone quickly if they need assistance, especially if they live alone. If a personal alarm doesn’t feel like the right solution for your loved one, or they’re not yet ready to take that step, then it’s a good idea to ensure they have a mobile phone and contact numbers close to hand.

From battery life to ease of use, we’ve put together a guide to the best mobile phones for the elderly.

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