Independent Living — Helping your Senior Loved One Remain in Their Home
My introduction to the challenges of independent living began five years ago when my wife and I became care coordinators for her elderly grandfather. He’d had a serious fall years before, which limited his mobility; and though in the early stages of dementia, he was insistent that he wanted to spend his twilight years in his own home, surrounded by his memories. It has been our goal to facilitate his wishes by helping him limit falls and working with his care team to keep him active and mobile with the help of a rollator.
After going for nearly three years without an incident, he had a minor fall that resulted in a three-day hospital stay and subsequent follow-up care. During this follow-up care, he was provided the services of an occupational therapist who evaluated his bedroom, bathroom, and living room for fall hazards. This resulted in very simple recommendations that required minimal effort to implement, but went a long way toward limiting the potential for falls, thus keeping him in his home longer.
The first recommendation was around his bed. We installed a bed rail (GF6800, shown at right) onto his existing bed to assist with transferring from his bed to his rollator, as well as a no-slip rug/pad (FLATMAT, shown above) next to his bed, since he has hardwood floors. Next we placed a 24” grab bar (2019A, shown below) on the wall adjacent to his bed, in case his rollator was out of reach, or if he needed additional support during transfer.
The next concern was the pathways between bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen. We removed rugs that could be trip hazards, moved furniture to allow clear access to these pathways, and improved lighting in dark hallways.
In the bathroom we removed his towel bars and replaced them with grab bars for extra security in tight quarters. We also installed a raised toilet seat and shower bench so he could continue toileting and bathing with minimal assistance.
In all these were very inexpensive, minor changes, but they have gone a long way toward keeping our loved one in his own home. One of the most important contributors to longevity is independence.
The ability to do as much for ourselves as possible as we age is key to preserving dignity and promoting self-confidence.
Kessler Colson is a Product Manager and Territory Manager at Graham-Field.
About GF Health Products, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. Graham-Field product brands include Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, Intensa, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 1.770.368.4700.