Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide

A Goal at Any Age

As we grow into adulthood, we relish the control and independence allowed us at this stage of life. In still later years, the need to be independent and in charge of our decisions continues.

To ensure that your environment is as safe for you as it can be, take a walk through your home to assess risk. A lot of hazards can be easily fixed once identified.

Home Safety Tips

Throughout the house, check your electrical cords. Are they out of the flow of traffic? Are they frayed or cracked? Make sure that area rugs have slip-resistant backing. Try and reduce obstructions in hallways to avoid tripping, and be sure there's enough lighting, especially in hallways and stairwells. Consider night lights for hallways and bathrooms. Always use the handrail to climb or descend stairs. You may wish to add one for support. Avoid wearing socks or slippers on carpeted stairs as this can cause you to lose your footing. For reaching a high object, use a step stool with a handrail. Consider a cordless phone that can move with you through the house. Keep the numbers for police, fire department, local poison center, and a neighbor's number handy. Check that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order with fresh batteries. Develop an emergency exit plan in case there is a fire.

Let's move into specific rooms of your home.

In the kitchen, be aware of long sleeves that may catch on pot handles or become ignited by the burner flame. Have a fire extinguisher handy.

In the bathroom, soapy surfaces are slippery. Grab bars in the bathtub/shower can increase safety. Consider using a shower chair for further stability.

In the bedroom, check that you can reach a light switch if you need to get up during the night. If not, consider adding a night light or rearranging your furniture closer to lamps or switches. You may want to secure flashlights to keep in convenient locations.

After reviewing safety in your home, work at keeping your good health. Attend appointments with doctors and come prepared with a list of the medications, including dietary supplements and herbs you are taking, how often and for what. Throw away old prescriptions. Make a list of questions you have for the doctor. Maintain a balanced diet. In later years we may have fewer people to cook for and may dine alone, but nutrition is important at any age. With your doctor's approval, continue or consider starting an exercise regimen for yourself. Classes for aerobics, line dancing, and other activities are available.

Social and Emotional Needs

Well-being is linked with social and emotional support. As children grow up and move out on their own, and family and friends may have died or moved away, loneliness may occur. Seek out your friends, ask for, and accept their help. Volunteerism provides a sense of purposefulness that comes with helping others. Stay connected or reconnect with your House of Worship. Be watchful of signs of depression including a persistent sad or anxious mood, pessimism, loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities including sex, decreased energy, problems eating or sleeping, thoughts of death or suicide, irritability, excessive crying, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and recurring pains that do not respond to treatment. If you experience symptoms for more two weeks, talk with your doctor as effective treatments are available.

Financial & Health Matters

Keep control of financial and health matters by writing a living will so that your doctor and others will be aware of your wishes should you not be able to communicate these. A power of attorney would enable someone you trust to pay your bills and make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do this. Long term care insurance may also be part of your plan as it would help you pay for care either in your home or in a facility should the need arise. Being prepared keeps you in charge of how your business will be conducted even if you cannot direct it and gives assurance to your family and friends that they are following your wishes.

Staying independent can be a challenge. There are information and referral sources such as the Area Agency on Aging and Senior Services to assist and direct you to appropriate services. Take control. Stay Independent.

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