We all have various activities that we must perform each day, but did you know there is a name for it? According to Kindly Care, activities of daily living (ADLs) are “basic tasks that must be accomplished every day for an individual to thrive,” and include categories such as dressing, eating and hygiene. ADLs are necessary for healthy, safe living, and as a caregiver, it is up to you to work with your loved one to assess their daily needs and put together a plan of care. The following are suggestions you may find helpful and as your assess your aging loved one’s current status:
You get up in the morning, throw on a pair of pants, quickly button your shirt, and head out the door, but for a senior, this process can be a lot more complicated. Arthritis and poor eyesight make buttons and snaps a nightmare, and poor balance can make something as simple as lifting a leg up and into a pair of pants a falling hazard. It could be that your loved one has no trouble putting clothing on, but struggles when it comes to determining what matches and what is weather-appropriate. There are various ways you can simplify the dressing process, such as replacing buttons with zippers or velcro, cleaning out the closet to offer fewer choices, or putting together matching outfits. It may be necessary for you or a home health aide to stop by in the mornings and evenings to help with clothing changes.
Age directly impacts our eating habits, and for seniors this translates into a slower metabolism/digestion, appetite changes, and a loss of interest in food for various reasons such as inability to prepare food or depression. Age also brings new ailments such as heart disease, constipation, and high blood pressure/cholesterol. Proper nutrition can combat these ailments, but your loved one may find it difficult to get the right recommended servings of fruits, veggies, grains, and protein. Perhaps mobility makes going to the store and navigating the kitchen more of a hassle than it is worth, or cognitive decline has left your loved one struggling to remember that recipe or how to even turn on the stove. There are a variety of healthy, nutritious options catered to seniors that you can help them make (or freeze for later). Double up the recipe so it can carry them through the week, and write it down so they can make it themselves. Accompany them on store trips, or handle the task yourself, to remove the fear and anxiety that might come with venturing out.
Most, if not all, hygiene rituals occur in the bathroom, but the bathroom can be a scary place for a senior, as it poses a serious risk for slips and falls. According to Redfin, “Safety rails with textured grips, shower seats, transfer seats, and roll-in showers are also valuable options to make bathing safer and easier for your loved one. A single lever for the faucet is usually easier to turn and operate than two separate knobs, so consider a new faucet head if necessary.”
You might also find it helpful to invest in an emergency alert system for your senior to not only be used in the bathroom, but throughout the entire house. Accidents happen, and abilities can change in an instant, so a panic button can give you and your loved one peace of mind should an emergency happen. The use of a panic button can also alert you to changing needs and abilities that should be addressed immediately.
For a comprehensive needs assessment checklist, take a look at this one from the National Caregivers Library.
Needs and abilities can change from one minute to the next, so check in with your loved one regularly to reassess the situation and make the necessary adjustments. You may find that home modifications and daily help aids solve the problem, or it might take assistance from you or someone else to make sure their needs are met. Regardless, regular check-ins ensures your loved one is being adequately cared for, and that’s the ultimate goal as their caregiver.