Aging curbs the mobility of our senior loved ones, often leaving them unable to properly care for themselves, get up and down stairs, and even live independently in their own homes.
A study funded by the National Institute for Health and the National Institute on Aging is examining lifestyle changes such as exercise and learning to determine how they can help improve the physical and cognitive abilities of seniors.
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In the meantime, you can help by securing help or services, many of which are available at minimal cost in the community. Tips for helping a senior maintain independence include:
- Getting them a cell phone and/or a device like the Lifeline Personal Emergency Response System enables them to contact someone in case of a fall or other injury
- Securing meal delivery through Meals on Wheels
- Signing up for transportation to doctor's appointments through the state Department of Human Services
- Making the home safe by securing throw rugs with double-sided tape around the edges, installing handrails near the bathtub and toilets and bringing appliances like the washer and dryer to the main floor of the house
- Securing private pay home health care services for care during an illness or after an injury
In addition, programs like the VNA of Care New England offer a wide range of in-home services to help seniors, including:
- Bathing and shampooing
- Light housekeeping, including dusting, vacuuming and laundry
- Meal preparation for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Nutrition, with the help of a registered dietitian
- Occupational therapy, which can include regaining the ability to complete everyday tasks such as dressing or bathing, or learning to walk with a cane or use a wheelchair
- Personal care such as bedtime assistance
- Physical therapy to help restore movement and function, ease pain and increase strength and mobility
- Speech therapy to correct speech or swallowing disorders and help restore language and communication skills
- Transportation with some certified nursing assistants for shopping and appointments
- Wake up and tuck in, where a certified nursing assistant (CNA) arrives in the morning to help the patient get up and start the day, then returns in the evening to get the patient comfortably settled in bed; breakfast preparation and cleanup, and medication reminders are included
These services are invaluable to many families. According to one daughter of a patient, "Having the CNAs care for Mom gives us such peace of mind. Because the same CNAs care for her each day, they know what to expect and can tell if something is wrong with her."
For more information on services available for the seniors in your life, go to www.vnacarenewengland.org or call (401) 737-6050.