Does your home seem less accommodating than it used to? Join the club. That tends to happen as we age. Toilets are suddenly too low, cabinets too high, and steps and loose rugs make getting around perilous, especially if you have stiff, arthritic joints. Karen Kassik discovered this in 2002, when she brought her then 66-year-old mother to live in her two-bedroom home in Winter Park, Fla.
"I found out very quickly how inadequate this little house was," she recalls.
Kassik, 45, used her background...
Come up with a list of questions and concerns to discuss with the doctor beforehand. Have you noticed any new symptoms? Are any medications causing side effects? You may notice things that your loved one doesn't realize or forgets to ask about.
Medication safety. Many seniors take a lot of medicines. It's easy to get confused, skipping a dose of one drug and taking a double dose of another. You can simplify the process.
Get a large, easy-to-read weekly pillbox and help set it up. Use timers or alarms to remind your loved one to take medicine. And if his medicine schedule is just too complicated, ask his doctor if he can simplify it by using different drugs or dosages.
Physical activity. Encourage your loved one to stay active. Exercise can improve his health, strength, sleep, and mood and lower the risk of falls.
Try short walks around the neighborhood or take swims at the community pool. If that doesn't appeal, encourage an activity like gardening. Of course, it's always a good idea to check with your loved one's doctor before you start any sort of formal exercise program.
Mental health. Watch for signs of depression and anxiety, and don't assume that problems will get better on their own. You can talk to your loved one's doctor about getting help from a therapist.
Good nutrition. Encourage your loved one to eat a healthy diet. When you shop, choose nutritious foods that are easy to prepare.
You and other caregivers can bring over frozen meals that you've made for reheating in the microwave or oven. Just make sure they're clearly labeled and dated. You should also take a look in the fridge and cabinets to make sure that your loved one isn't at risk of eating food that's gone bad.