In recognition of Occupational Therapy month, Sinai Health System’s Department of Geriatrics focused this month’s Healthy Ageing 101 Lunch & Learn session on supporting older adults in the home, allowing them to remain as independent as possible. Occupational therapists help to develop, recover and maintain everyday activities for individuals. Leslie Coulter, Occupational Therapist with the House Calls program, discussed practical tips and advice for maintaining independence among older adults, as well as how to support older adults who can no longer remain independent.
Here are the highlights:
- Seniors who use walkers at home should keep a cordless phone in their walker basket – in case of emergency, the phone is always close by.
- Install lights in as many places as possible to ensure a well-lit living space, especially on and around stairs.
- If the home is multi-level, purchase duplicate items, such as walkers, for both floors.
- Indoor footwear should not slide around. Ideally, footwear should have a sturdy back, non-slip bottom, and be adjustable in the toes (for times when the feet swell).
- Avoid clothing with loose sleeves –a potential fire hazard when cooking.
- Reorganize the kitchen to prevent the use of step-stools. This may require de-cluttering to get down to the basics of what’s needed. Also group items that are used together to prevent having to move around unnecessarily.
- Purchase motion-sensor nightlights to help guide the way to the bathroom at night, and help lessen disorientation.
- Install a towel rack as close to the sink as possible, or keep a towel on the counter next to the sink to prevent water from dripping from wet hands onto the floor – a slipping hazard.
- Have doors re-installed (hinges rotated) to swing out instead of into small spaces, like bathrooms, allowing for increased accessibility.
- Purchase accessibility devices for bathing and toileting, such as non-slip grab bars and raised toilet seats/platforms to raise entire toilet.