As a home caregiver, you have many overlapping responsibilities. You’re responsible for checking in on your patient on a regular basis, helping them with daily activities, and maximizing their chances of living a long, healthy life.
One of the most important things you can do for the people you care for is create a more dynamic, safer, interesting environment for each of them. With a better, more supportive environment, your people will be less likely to sustain injury and more likely to stay in good health.
So what steps can you take to create more dynamic environments for these people?
The Rise of Home Care
Home care is rising in popularity for elderly people, and for several reasons. Part of this trend is attributable to our aging population; people are getting older and living longer, increasing demand for home care services. New programs also make it possible for relatives and friends to be paid as caregivers, incentivizing more people to stay at home as they get older.
Whether you’re a professional, paid caregiver or just a volunteer looking out for one of your elderly relatives, there are many areas of improvement on which you can choose to focus.
Safety, Security, and Accessibility
First, prioritize safety, security, and accessibility. The home environment should be as safe as possible, minimizing hazards while enabling the person living there to live a full, independent life (or a life that’s as independent as possible).
- Remove trip/fall hazards. Start by removing or mitigating any hazards that could cause a person to trip or fall. Simple changes, like removing area rugs, can make a big difference. And don’t forget about slippery areas like the bathtub or kitchen floor.
- Replace handles and reorganize. Consider replacing handles on cabinets, faucets, and other fixtures with ones that are easier to grab. Depending on the condition of the person you’re caring for, it may also make sense to reorganize their living spaces; for example, if this person can’t reach the top cabinets, consider relocating their most important dishes to lower cabinets.
- Include more rails and guards. It’s also a good idea to include more rails and guards throughout the domicile. This makes it less likely for the person to fall and gives them something to hold onto for stability whenever they need it.
Fill the Area With Plant Life
Indoor plants are great for your health, regardless of how old you are. Being in nature is optimal, but as we get older, we become less mobile, so indoor plants are a great substitute. Being surrounded by greenery can make you less vulnerable to depression and anxiety, it can make you more productive, and it may even play a role in improving your indoor air quality. Try to include as many plants as possible, filling the area with natural scenery; just make sure these plants are out of the way and relatively easy to care for.
Hang Stimulating Artwork
It’s also a good idea to hang some stimulating artwork. Abstract, colorful pieces work best for many people. It’s a way to make the space more beautiful and prompt the person living in the space to think critically about these materials. This is especially valuable if the person you’re caring for is artistically inclined.
Surround Common Spaces With Music/Sounds
Music has a close relationship with memory. When we listen to music, we are more likely to remember our experiences. And when we hear specific songs, we are often transported back to younger ages to remember important events associated with those songs. To tap into nostalgia and facilitate better cognitive function, consider filling your living spaces with music and sounds from a multitude of high-quality speakers. Teach the person you’re caring for how to use these speakers at will.
Make Intellectually Stimulating Activities More Available
Older adults need plenty of intellectual stimulation to remain engaged and mentally active. Make sure there are plenty of intellectually stimulating activities available and accessible in their environment. For example, you can organize a pile of jigsaw puzzles near an open coffee table so they’re available whenever the patient wants to put one together.
Make Spaces Suitable for Company
It’s also a good idea to make this space as open and welcoming as possible for company. Socializing is one of the most important activities for older adults, giving them an opportunity to connect with others, distress, and stave off cognitive decline. Even simple changes, like making the living room more open or including more chairs for guests, can make people more likely to visit in the future.
As you can see, most of these changes are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement – yet they can make a profound impact on your patient’s mental and physical health. Keep optimizing the environment for further benefits.