May is National Aging Life Care Month, a time to celebrate the dedicated professionals who help families navigate the ever-changing needs of their aging loved ones.

This month, we’re launching a special blog series titled “The ABCs of Aging Life Care.” This series aims to demystify the world of senior care by exploring the most important, and often asked-about, topics that Aging Life Care Professionals® deal with.

Whether you’re just starting to consider your future needs or facing immediate challenges, this series is for you. Stay tuned as we delve into the alphabet of senior care, one topic at a time!

A is for Accessibility

As we age, our homes start to present challenges for those with changing mobility. Stairs become obstacles; bathtubs pose a slipping hazard; reaching for things becomes difficult.

But there’s good news! Aging in place is possible. As Aging Life Care Professionals®, we are experts at modifying living spaces for your loved ones. These mostly simple additions and accommodations ensure continued safety and ease of movement for our mobility-impaired clients.

Making Your Home More Accessible

The benefits of adapting your home for continued independent living are numerous. Aside from simply increasing mobility, these modifications make loved ones feel safe and comfortable at home again. Preventable slips and falls are an all-too common cause of injury in older adults 一 and 1 out of every 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, results in serious trauma. Here are key areas to consider updating in your home, along with the most important mods:

  • Entryways: Install ramps or consider wider doorways for wheelchairs or walkers.
  • Bathrooms: Grab bars and raised toilet seats enhance safety. Walk-in showers are a great option.
  • Living Areas: Ample lighting prevents tripping, while removing clutter creates a clear path. Opt for furniture with easy-to-grip armrests.
  • Kitchens: Lower cabinets with pull-out shelves improve accessibility. Replace knobs with levers on drawers and cabinets.

Seeking Expert Help

For a comprehensive and safe outcome, Aging Life Care Managers® consult with professionals. This includes:

  • Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS)
  • Occupational therapists
  • Architects and general contractors
  • Care managers

Paying for Updates

There are resources and sometimes financial aid available to help finance home updates. The eligibility requirements can be complex, so it’s helpful to work with an Aging Life Care Manager® or social worker for guidance.

A few places to start include:

If you or a loved one is considering aging in place, it’s never too early to start planning. Researching options, consulting with professionals and exploring financial assistance programs can significantly ease the transition. Creating a safe and accessible home allows you to age gracefully and continue enjoying the comfort and independence of your own home.

B is for Balance

Falls are increasingly common with age because our sense of balance shifts over time. Not only can slips and stumbles cause physical harm, but they also lead to a fear of falling that impacts our loved one’s mobility and independence.

A sedentary lifestyle, changes in hearing or vision, and the side effects of prescription drugs are just a few of the age-related changes that make us more susceptible to losing our balance. We can modify a loved one’s environment to help keep them safe, but maintaining good balance is one of the best ways to prevent falls. And to do that, we need strength, stamina, and focus.

Improving Balance

There are simple exercises appropriate for aging adults that can easily be incorporated into your loved one’s daily routine. Some of these include:

  • Heel-toe walking
  • Single leg stance
  • Side leg raises
  • Age-appropriate workouts

Note: An Aging Life Care Manager® will work with your loved one, their physician, and physical therapist, to arrange services that are appropriate. You should never begin a workout program without consulting your doctor first.

Fall-Proofing Your Home

In addition to exercises, some home modifications can further bolster your balance. We spoke to some of these in our Accessibility section, but other suggestions can include:

  • Improve lighting in rooms and add nightlights in dark hallways
  • Clear the clutter and keep oft-used items within reach
  • Keep cables and cords out of walkways
  • Reconsider flooring (such as non-slip treatments for wood floors)
  • Secure rugs and anchor furniture
  • Make sure you invest supportive footwear with clear tread

If you haven’t already, ask your Aging Life Care Manager® to speak with your doctor about creating a personalized fall prevention plan. Additionally, they can help you consult with an occupational therapist for guidance on the best way to adapt the home environment.

By taking these steps, you can keep yourself and your loved ones active, independent, and confident for years to come!