As we age, performing ordinary everyday tasks once taken for granted often becomes more challenging due to arthritis, vision or balance issues, reduced range of motion and other health issues related to aging. Working smarter, not harder, can help seniors lead more productive and independent lives. Wendy Gurtman, OT /Assistant Director of Rehabilitation at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack, NY, offers the following tips to help mitigate some of the everyday living challenges that seniors often face, such as:
1. Dressing -- Having difficulty bending down to put on your socks and shoes? A sock aide and a long-handle shoe horn can help you slide shoes/socks on more easily, and eliminate the need to bend over. No-tie elastic shoe laces can also help those with arthritic hands or balance issues slip shoes on and off more easily.
2. Eating -- Having trouble holding onto your utensils while you eat? Consider using adaptive utensils with built-up handles that provide a secure, comfortable grip while also reducing pain and cramping.
3. Transporting -- Do you often need to carry a plate of food or a cup, or maybe a pocketbook or phone, while using your walker? A walker tray or basket attached to the front of your walker can help you easily and safely transport items from room to room.
4. Reaching -- Having trouble picking things up off the floor or reaching items in your kitchen cabinets? Using a “grabber or reacher” tool, and placing the things you use within safe and easy reaching distance, will help you get what you need safely.
5. Bathing – Concerned about slips and falls in the bathroom? Installing grab bars in the tub or shower, adding non-slip mats or decals or using a shower chair can make bathing much safer.
6. Sleeping -- Is getting in and out of bed a challenge? Bedrails offer stability for transferring to and from the bed safely, help to facilitate repositioning while in bed and to provide extra support when pivoting to a sitting position.
7. Navigating the Home Environment -- Trips and falls are the leading cause of injuries - both fatal and nonfatal- for seniors. Ensure your home safety by performing a thorough check for items such as throw rugs, which are the biggest culprit for dangerous falls.
Eliminating potential hazards in the home, utilizing adaptive devices and perhaps enlisting the help of a home health aide as needs change to assist with activities of daily living can enhance the quality of life and help make aging in place a real possibility for many seniors.
Wendy Gurtman, OT is Assistant Director of Rehabilitation at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack, part of the Gurwin Family of Healthcare Services. Visit www.gurwin.org for information about our full continuum of healthcare services.