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Senior Safety

Make Your Bathroom Safe & Attractive For Seniors

Bathroom safety is extremely important as that is where a lot of accidents happen. Water everywhere, people needing to step in and out of tight spaces, etc. can lead to slips and falls which then lead to other, long-term problems. However, it doesn’t have to be this way as there are lots of ways to make your bathroom safer without making it look like a hospital facility. In short, safe and attractive! Here are some ideas.

Install some night lights or even this light up toilet seat. It guides the way without eliminating night vision!

Night lights. Simple, attractive and easy to install. Every bathroom should have one to allow people to see clearly once in there, but also to find their way from the bedroom. I’m a big fan of automatic lights everywhere (e.g. hallway strip lighting) and I even like the idea of light up toilet seats if that helps people feel more comfortable and safe.

Promenaid black railing with antique brass fittings. Safe and attractive!

Grab Bars. Another simple but very effective device that we install a lot of. They can be a little trickier for the home owner to do themselves as they should be firmly attached and close to the bath or shower. Want to avoid the hospital look? We like to install the Promenaid line because they can be beautiful as well as useful.

Lots of different patterns and designs for non-slip bath strips.

Non-slip bath strips. Not only do these make your tub or shower safer, they look great! Lots of beautiful patterns and designs out there and they are also simple to install. Every tub or shower should have them.

There you are. A few suggestions that will make your bathroom a lot safer while making sure it stays attractive. All easily done!

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Senior Safety

Balancing Exercises For Seniors Using A Walker or Cane

All exercise is good but balancing exercises are very good for avoiding falls.

As someone who sees seniors in their homes every day, one of the things that I’m constantly worried about is their ability to walk safely. Even when they have a cane or a walker, I actually get a little more worried because people then think they don’t need to do exercise or balancing techniques. Falls are the number one issue with seniors and easily the number one issue I get called in to make changes to the house.

Here’s a short video which explains five simple techniques for seniors (and everyone really!) to practice so that they can improve their balance and lessen the chance of falling. The video is with Bob and Brad, who I have posted about before. Two funny guys and they provide lots of good ideas!

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Senior Safety

Non Slip Shower & Bath Strips

These are one of the simplest yet most effective shower or bath safety products out there. Many different providers and looks and what is best is that they can be both safe and attractive! Easily done at home by yourself or call in a handyman to prep your shower/bath area and put them down.

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Senior Care

Talking With Parents About Aging and Home Care

It’s a tricky step to start talking about home care or other services to your parents, as it is a major change from the status quo. Many factors are involved and each case is completely different. However, here is a list of ideas for you to consider prior to taking that step!

Keep them involved. Autonomy is not a minor point for anyone and particularly for people who have run things their own way up to this point. You may prefer safety. They however prefer autonomy. Tread lightly and make sure you get them involved in the discussions at the start and throughout the process.

Do a thorough and slow assessment of their needs. Initially, you can do this by yourself but you may request an OT, family doctor or other health care professional to step in as well. Understand that these needs will change over time. Write everything down in a notebook and don’t do it all at once and then make decisions unilaterally. There are usually some pretty good reasons why your parents are doing things a certain way and understanding those reasons are important. For example, it may seem silly to you that they are doing their laundry down in the basement. However, that may also be a way they get exercise and is part of their daily routine. Therefore, instead of putting the washer and dryer upstairs, perhaps add some railings to make it safer for going downstairs.

Do a thorough and slow assessment of your needs and resources. What are you doing for them and what are you doing for yourself? How much money is available for home care? How much do you save by not having them move out? How much time do you have to assist? Is it better for you to be involved or is it better for a professional to step in? Lots of good questions to think about before you decide to jump in!

Explore all the options. There are many ways for people to age gracefully and safely. I prefer people to stay in their own home because that is what they are used to and normally what they prefer. I tend to find it easier, cheaper and better socially. However, other options like moving to a smaller apartment or condo; assisted living; group living; etc. are all possibilities that can and should be explored. Make sure you talk over all the options with them and remember – it’s their choice!

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Senior Care

How To Get Your Parents To Accept Assistance

The first time I show up at a senior’s home to do work, particularly if I’ve been asked to come by one of the children or a caregiver, it’s always awkward. Normally, the home owner or senior doesn’t really want me there, feels that the job could be done by themselves, isn’t that important, or simply doesn’t trust me. All of which makes the situation tricky to deal with. How to get around this if you are the caregiver or the person doing the work? Here’s some ideas.

Say it’s for yourself, not them. In most cases, they’re your parents and they respond well to your needs and fears. Just tell them it will make you feel better and this tends to get the door open. Or, say you just don’t have the time to do it all yourself and you would rather do positive things together as opposed to running around cleaning the house and fixing stuff. After the first job or two is done, it gets a lot easier.

Introduce the handyman and senior to get them talking and exchanging ideas.

Tell them about me. I personally don’t like people coming into the house if I don’t know them. Neither do your parents. Give them some background on the handyman or other person coming in, what they do for a living, what their objectives are, etc. Give them my phone number as well and get them involved. After all, autonomy is not a minor issue here and everyone wants to feel in control! Then, introduce them properly. Let me have a moment to chat with them and hear their thoughts. Ultimately it will be the two of us working together and knowing a bit about each other makes it a lot easier.

Say it’s doctor’s orders. This should be used as a last resort but seems to work better for some people than others. Some folks tend to respect doctor authority (not all do that’s for sure!) and they will allow me to come in to put up some bars or other devices if that’s required.

Be clear that it will allow them to stay in their house longer. In the majority of my cases the senior person feels that this is the first step in getting them to move into another form of care. They often complain to me that “she just wants me to go into a senior’s home.” Explain that that is just not the case. Be clear that having help at home will allow them to stay longer. Make the financial case to them as well. If they fear that you are using up the inheritance, tell them honestly that every day they spend at home makes the inheritance all that much larger. In short, be honest and blunt.

Those are just a few methods that work. Each person is different of course but if you follow some of these ideas it might work out a lot better than most cases I see!

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Senior Care

Embracing Aging 2020

Embracing Aging 2020 is an upcoming free series of presentations to help people going through this process to better equip themselves for the inevitable changes. All of the presentations are at Eglinton St. George’s United Church. There are a number of topics that are to be discussed including:

Feb. 2: Aging-in-Place: Growing Older, Staying at Home. This is all about staying safe and independent in your home or condo as well as how to make it free of barriers and adaptable to your changing needs. Carried out by Margot McWhirter, an Occupational Therapist and specialist in the field of aging-in-place.

Mar. 29: Scam Alert! Presented by Patrick McKeen of the Better Business Bureau. This is all about how consumers can protect themselves from the most significant scams out there.

Apr. 19: Coming of Age. Presentation by Dr. Samir Sinha on Ontario’s and Toronto’s Senior Strategy, how it was carried out and other progress to date.

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Design Ideas

Smart Plugs and Thermostats for Safety and Comfort

Smart Plug For A Receptacle

Homes contain many potential fire hazards, like a stove that’s left on or space heaters overheating next to some bedding. Installing a few smart plugs or smart outlets to use with these devices can give you peace of mind, even if you live far away. You’ll be able to remotely control and monitor the power to those plugs or outlets via your smartphone and check in anytime to see if there are any potential dangers. As well, you can schedule when these devices turn on to ensure that areas are well lit when required, to avoid slips and falls in the home.

Google Nest Smart Thermostat

Many modern thermostats now include WiFi-enabled controls and intelligent scheduling. As a caregiver, you could remotely access the thermostat to set the temperature on a schedule, turn up the heat ahead of a major storm, or turn on the air conditioner during a heat wave. If your older adult has limited mobility, a smart thermostat can allow them to easily control the temperature from their smartphone or tablet instead of having to get up.

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Senior Care

Great Balancing Exercises to Avoid Falls

As we age, we lose our balance, which can lead to falls and all the nasty things that falls can do. However, it is possible to lessen the chances of falling and one of them is through regular balancing exercises.

This video, by two physiotherapists (Bob and Brad) is both funny and quite useful. Do the exercises and avoid falls. Seems simple to me! They even have a good YouTube website which is worth looking at for more exercises.

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Senior Care

Fall Prevention Tips

Falls are the number one issue with most older adults. Not because of the fall itself, but from all the various complications that result from falls. A big part of our work at HSS Toronto is involved with preventing falls through a number of interventions. Here’s a quick list of possible things to consider if you want to prevent yourself from falling; or, if you want to mitigate the chances of your loved ones from falling.

Review medications and your overall fall risk with your family doctor. Lots of medications can cause dizziness or balance issues. Eye examinations on a regular basis can also be useful so that your eye doctor can advise on needed prescription changes. By just being aware of these causes or modifying behaviour around their use can lessen the chances of a fall.

Exercise for seniors is even more important than for younger folks as it reduces the risk of falls.

Clean up and remove clutter in the house. Sometimes this is as simple as getting rid of piles of stuff near doors or entrances; or moving furniture and tables around so that they are no longer in the way. Tacking down (or removing completely) loose carpets and looking for changes in floor heights from room to room is also very useful.

Exercise. I’m a big proponent of exercise for a number of reasons. Strengthening legs allows for more walking and reduced risk of falling. Balancing exercises ensure better balance overall. Exercise can also reduce fatigue during the day, making falling less of a risk.

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Design Ideas

Making Your Home “Visitable”

While you may not require any changes or modifications to your home for yourself, many people have friends and relatives who require some level of modification to be able to visit. This is called “visitability” and it is becoming more and more popular for individuals as well as for planning organizations in various levels of government.

So, what makes a home “visitable”? Of course, if you have a specific person or group of people in mind, the answer to this question can also be specific. However, there are a number of common elements to home visitability.

At least one zero-step entrance. This can be either at the front or back of the house but the idea is to have a way for people to enter the house without having to use steps.

Interior doors having a minimum of clear-opening of 32 inches. This is to allow people in wheelchairs, walkers, etc. to be able to get through the door. If possible, making the doorway even wider and adding easy-open hardware (like lever door handles which don’t require someone to grip and turn) is also recommended.

36 inch wide hallways. These allow for easy movement through the ground floor and while doors might be slightly narrower, it is important to not have high thresholds at the doors. It’s recommended to be less than 1/2 inch but 1/4 is even better.

Ground floor bathrooms. Making a bathroom accessible on the main floor making visiting so much easier for people with accessibility issues.

Controls less than 48 inches above floor level. Whether they be light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, etc., having the house controls at the level allows everyone access.

Visitability is a basic component of universal design principles which focus on creating homes that everyone can live in and visit. Whether you are doing it for yourself, friends, family or just someone who drops by, giving thought to some of these changes can make a world of difference to someone visiting you. Want some more information? Why not visit VisitAble Housing Canada to learn a bit more!