March 10, 2021 4 min read
Many activities of daily living may seem like simple and mundane tasks for most people. However, as we age, we may not be as agile and might not be able to function as easily as we used to.
As we age, our cognitive and physical abilities decline and we may find it hard to hold utensils or feed ourselves. The decline in motor or swallowing functions may also lengthen the duration for meal-times. Seniors may also experience dietary and nutritional challenges such as forgetting to eat meals or loss in appetite.
The frustration of not being able to use a spoon, fork, or knife could make some older adults not want to eat at all. To help them to eat easily, try reducing the need for utensils and serve foods that can be eaten without utensils.
You can also try meal-time aids that can help them with eating more independently. Instead of light utensils that are hard to control, try weighted or bendable utensils. Other aids such as the anti-slip coaster or scoop dish would also help make meal-times more enjoyable.
While bathing is a basic and simple task, it can be quite tiresome and even dangerous for the elderly.
Seniors can also experience a loss in balance or range of motion as they age. Assisting them with showering can prevent falls and other related injuries. Falls can be prevented by installing anti-slip features such as grab bars and anti-slip mats. Chance of falling can also be reduced by using a shower chair, which provides a secure area to sit on during high risk activity such as bathing.
Getting dressed is a daily action that most of us take for granted. We often don’t think twice about putting our arms up to dive into a sweater or reaching down to tie our shoelaces. Getting dressed and undressed is on the other hand an everyday task that is challenging for many older adults.
No matter a person’s age or cognitive ability, people like to have autonomy and choice over what they wear. Give a few appropriate options for them to choose so that seniors maintain a sense of self and of control through the act of choosing what to wear.
Tools such as dressing aids and adaptive clothings are also great options which can encourage seniors to dress up independently.
While you are assisting with a transfer you might be distracted by something you forgot to grab. This can lead you to twist or overextend your body. You might also throw your loved one off balance with a sudden movement. Think through and get everything you need in place before transferring.
Safe transfers are steady and smooth. Moving quickly can make your loved one feel confused or rushed. Taking the extra time to set up and prepare for the transfer to ensure that the transfer will be smooth.
Not only do you need help from your loved one to move and work together with you, you can also use tools and technology to ease the transfer. Transfer aids such as transfer board or transfer sheet help to ease the transfer extensively. It prevents the caretakers from overexerting and straining themselves from transfers.
Even if your older adult is pretty independent, they may still need a little help when they go to the bathroom. It’s easy for seniors to fall while they are walking to the bathroom in a rush.
If your seniors are weaker, consider other means of helping them to the toilet. Consider using a walking aid or grab bars which can help them to walk more safely or opt for a commode which can be rolled over the toilet bowl. This might be safer than walking to the bathroom.
Be patient, give them plenty of time to do what you ask. Work according to their pace. Before moving, use short sentences to explain the next step so your older adult knows what to expect. For example, "The toilet seat is right behind you. Squat down slowly to sit."
Choosing the right mobility aid is important. Mobility aids ranges from a simple canes to two-handed walking aids like walkers or rollators to pushchairs or wheelchairs. Different mobility aids is suited for people of the various level of mobility.
Seniors with a strong core and good balance will feel steadier on their feet, thus reducing their chances of falling. Both strength and balance training can help them walk more steadily. Check out some of our blog posts below for exercises that are suitable for seniors!
Strength and balance training help seniors have greater flexibility and this in turn would help them to walk better and safer. They will be in a better position to walk on their own than someone who doesn’t engage in strength and balance training.
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