As of 2015, there were nearly 50 million people over the age of 65 living in the U.S. The baby boomer generation continues to get older, leading to a large influx of seniors needing extra care. That includes end-of-life care. While many people think that end-of-life care always needs to be in some type of facility, that isn’t always true.
If you’re a senior with mobility issues, a mental health condition, or a physical illness, it is possible to stay healthier in your own home and improve the quality of your life with a few simple adjustments.
While some of these tips may require the help of a caregiver, there are things you can do that will make managing your end-of-life symptoms easier and to make your home more comfortable, so you can continue to live there safely.
Keep a Healthy Home
Your health should be your top priority at this stage in life. Having a home that is conducive to a healthy lifestyle is important. That starts with making sure your home itself has a sound structure and doesn’t pose a risk to your health. If you’ve been living in the same place for years, there may be foundational issues to address. If your home is especially old, it may even contain asbestos or other harmful contaminants that could compromise your immune system or cause respiratory issues.
Mold is another common problem that should be detected as soon as possible. Mold outbreaks can go unnoticed for years, depending on where they are. Unfortunately, the risks of breathing it in include:
- Allergic reactions
- Skin reactions
- Trouble breathing
- Sore throat
Keeping your home clean and free of clutter will make it easier to spot problems like mold. But, some cleaning products contain chemicals that can be just as harmful! Using natural cleaning products, or even using your own with ingredients like vinegar and lemon juice, can make you feel good about keeping your home spotless while keeping your immune system safe.
Working With a Healthcare Provider
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry looks a bit different these days. Studies have shown that seniors tend to be more susceptible to the virus, and may have a harder time fighting off the symptoms. So, if you are already immunocompromised, you may not feel safe making regular appointments with your doctor(s).
Thankfully, there has been an incredible rise in telehealth options. A whopping 76% of hospitals in the U.S. use video to connect with patients. Hospitals across the country have seen major surges in telehealth because of the pandemic, and it has likely changed the landscape of healthcare forever.
If you currently have a healthcare provider or clinic, ask them about their telehealth options. The best clinics have a few distinguishing characteristics, including:
- Staff with caring and sincere attitudes
- Strong credentials
- Open availability
You should be able to talk with your doctor or a specialist about everything from everyday issues to more serious concerns and questions. For example, if you have any type of surgery or procedure coming up for an illness or chronic condition, you may want to talk with a nurse anesthetist. They can give you information about pain management and discuss possible side effects. Talking with medical professionals, even virtually, can help to give you peace of mind from the comfort and protection of your own home.
A Layout That Works
In addition to making sure your home is safe and you’re not using cleaners or harmful substances, it’s also important to have a functional layout. That’s especially true if you have mobility issues, or you’re dealing with memory loss. You don’t want to risk falling when trying to climb the stairs or even getting to bed each night. Your home layout should be conducive to your needs, even if you’re struggling. Some layout and design tips to consider include:
- Making sure hallways and stairs are always free of clutter.
- Securing rugs to the floor so they don’t pose a tripping hazard.
- Adding rugs with grip to slippery floors.
- Installing safe-grab bars in the bathroom.
- Keeping your interior doors unlocked or removing the locks so someone can help you if needed.
If you are no longer able to take care of your home or move about freely, it may be time to consider transitioning to a hospice setting or having someone come into your home that can help to improve your quality of life, even if you are limited in what you can do.
Most seniors want to stay at home as long as possible in favor of going to an assisted living facility or living with a family member. But, to do that at the end-of-life stage, certain changes and adjustments need to be made. By implementing these tips, you can make the most of being in your own home, and stay healthy and safe as long as possible.
Updated: November 5, 2020