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Here are how to assist your aged parent/ senior as they are losing mobility or for someone who have mobility issues due to injuries/accidents. I learn through my own experience with my mother who gradually develop mobility issues due to a fall. Below are the items (they are not the exact items but similar ones which my mom or the seniors I know are using and finding to be useful).
Walking/ moving aids
I bought the walking aids below as soon as my mother had shown signs of weakened mobility and added each item as I noticed her mobility getting worse. It is better to use walking aids than to suffer a fall. If you encounter seniors who are stubborn in using the aids, I have this post from my own experience which may help.
1. Cane Umbrella
When my mom was still mobile but her legs had weakened due to aging, I got her a cane umbrella. It helps the person to move around and if it rains, it can double up as an umbrella.
2. A quad walking stick
As cane umbrella only have one stand, when a person gets weaker, he/she would require the quad walking stick to help in balancing.
3. A walking frame
The person would need a walking frame if the limbs are weak and the person also suffer from balancing issues. The one I bought for my mom does not have wheels in it. However I have seen others using with wheels and it does help them to walk easier. If without wheels, you need to move the walker in order to move forward. With wheels, only a little strength is required to move the walker.
4. A foldable wheelchair
If the person does not like to walk, chances are they will not want to go out much. Or you would see like cases of older folks having to sit alone at the bench at shopping malls or parks to wait for the family members. Being at home alone or sitting all alone would make one more miserable and feel more lonely. With a wheelchair, the senior can join the family along as now most places are wheelchair friendly.
I recommend getting the lightweight wheelchair with a larger wheel like this one. If the person is sitting on the wheelchair for long periods of time, line with a comfortable seat cushion with cover (so that you can detact the cover to wash it).
However, if the person is like my mom who likes to move around on her own while sitting on a wheelchair, you need the ones with smaller wheels. But do note smaller wheels ones are dangerous in slope as it is more difficult to stop and going up a travelator (where people can push trolley up) is dangerous as the wheelchair with the person’s weight will keep moving down the incline. You need someone very strong to hold on but it is still dangerous because if your shoe grip is not strong, it will send both person rolling down the travelator.
5. Adult diapers/ day pants
I started buying adult day pants for my mom and keeping at home when my mom started developing weakness in the legs. Before buying, measure the hip width (in inches and cm) to know the size to buy.
When going out, use the day pants if the person is waking or moving (it is like the underwear where it is slip up). I would get my mom to wear the day diaper pants when bringing her out for outings or for doctor’s checkup. This is useful as sometimes washroom may not be convenient (or it is fully occupied with long queues) and they may have incontinence. Or you may be stuck in an unexpected traffic jam. My mom would refuse to pee in the diaper and would insist to be taken to a washroom. So most of the time, the diapers would not be soiled. But there are times when it is soiled too and I would rather have her wear the day diapers than to risk soiling her pants.
Making your home disabled/elderly friendly
First thing you need to clear the space in your home to enable ease of movement for the person. Then these would be useful things to have:
1. Grab bars/ railings (preferably wall/floor mounted)
Having grab bars make a lot of difference. It allowed a person to remain independent by moving around on their own. Grab bars are useful to be installed in bathrooms and on areas where there is a step up or down. In fact, we had custom railing mounted on the floor and walls from her bed all the way to the toilet seat. This has enabled her to remain independant to go to toilet on her own.
Bed rails are also useful so that the person can holster himself or herself up from the bed easier. It also can help to prevent falls.
2. Bedside commode
If the washroom is far from the person’s bed, you may want to purchase a bedside commode. I bought for my mom in the previous place we were staying because the washroom is too far from her bed. When you have a commode, you must really remember to rinse it often and disinfect it with Dettol. Or else it will grow to stink real bad.
3. Motion sensor lights
These lights (battery operated or lightbulb) are useful as it would light up when movement is detected. The senior may wish to get up to use the washroom or go to kitchen and area should not be dark to minimize the risk of falling or injuries.
Alternatively you may also opt for solar power light motion detector lights which are popular these days…but may not work well on winter months. My friend has one and told me it is very useful. She would keep it out in the sunlight during the day. Then at night, she would keep the light low. The moment she gets up from bed and motion is detected, the spotlight would be activated and the entire area lits up very brightly.
4. Portable doorbell
If you are a caregiver, you may not be at the side of the person you care caring for all the time. What if the person needs to call you for something? You can buy the inexpensive doorbell to place by the bedside of the senior. Then with 2 sensors which you can place at different area of your house, ie in kitchen and another at the living room. The sensor works by just plugging into a power point.
I know a case where an old lady who was hospitalized and after she was discharged, she was weak and had incontinence. A doorbell was placed near her bed with the sensor in different part of the home so that when she rings, someone can come to attend to her.
5. Motion camera sensor
I find it to be useful because sometimes I had to be out to run a quick errand and end up leaving my mom alone at home for a short period. It gives me a peace of mind because with the installed camera, I could turn on and see how she is getting on. And I know some people would have it secretly installed to check on the maid to ensure their parents are not being mistreated (here is one of the many scary stories reported in the Singapore news).
6. Anti slip mats
When you have elderly or folks with mobility issues, it is important to ensure your mats are anti slip. Old rags or worn clothings would not do. I had most of the rags in my home replaced with anti slip mats especially those located outside toilets, her bedroom and living room.
Useful items at the bedstand
Get a bed stand have the following items within reach near the person.
1. Thermal flask
Use to store warm water. For elderly person (or anyone for that matter), it is better to drink warm water at night. Having a thermal flask in which you replace the water each day with warm water would save the person from needing to make the trip to the kitchen to have a drink at night when thirsty.
2. Plastic cup
As my mom also have dementia, she can be a little clumsy and tend to drop her cups. I have in fact replaced all her cups, plates and bowls with durable plastic types to avoid them breaking when dropped.
4. Favourite items
It can be photo frames of their favourite photos, books, puzzles. You can also consider getting a digital photo frame so that you can upload lots of pictures and have the frame rotate the pictures.
Their mobile phone should be nearby and there should be a power outlet that makes it easier for them to change their phone. If not, then having a powerbank would help.
For my mom, I have an old mobile phone which I have loaded with playlist of her favourite old songs. Whenever I need to be away doing some chores, I would on the playlist on my phone and let her listen. I had an app installed that prevents my screen from going into energy safe mode. I also place the phone on airplane mode to prevent any messages or downloads from disrupting the playlist.