10 Simple Life Hacks for Seniors to Make Life Easier
More and more older adults are choosing to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible. There is even a term for this lifestyle choice – aging in place. Maintaining your independence is important as you age, but it can seem like a challenge. Making a few changes in your home may help extend the time you can safely remain living at home.
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Desire to Live at Home
Rather than moving into a retirement community or assisted living facility as soon as they are eligible, many elderly people are choosing to age in place. According to the AARP Trends in Home and Community Preferences study, among adults 50 and older, more than 77% want to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible. The study also reported that 34% of adults mention the need to make certain modifications to future-proof their residence and make it safer for themselves or a loved one.
The good news is, that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on aging in place home renovations to make your home safer. Instead, take advantage of some simple ideas to improve your quality of life and keep you healthy and safe at home. This can include simple modifications such as installing grab bars in the shower, adding no-slip strips in the bathtub, adding non-slip mats under all areas rugs and placing light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs.
TIP: read our companion blog on 10 home safety tips for seniors filled with recommendations on how to make your home safer for long-term living.
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How to Make Life Easier for Elderly People
Aging in place is a priority for many older adults and their loved ones, but independence may seem daunting if you experience declining mobility and problems with balance, cognition and vision. Older adults who live alone are especially vulnerable to falls and accidents inside the home.
Did you know that, according to the National Safety Council, falls rank as one of the top 5 causes of household deaths in the United States? And, among people 65 and older, accidental falls are the number one cause of preventable death at home and in the community.
TIP: Continue reading for our top 10 life hack list of recommendations to help make your home safer and more accessible for yourself or a senior family member.
Household Tips for Seniors
Discover ways to add safety features at home without breaking the bank with these 10 simple hacks for daily life everyone age 50 or older should know.
TIP: Download our Life Hacks for Seniors to Make Life Easier infographic.
1. Bathroom equipment
Bathroom equipment can range from grab bars to a complete handicap bathroom remodel.
If you don’t want to do a major renovation, here are a few simple ideas:
- Non-slip mats to line the tub/shower and cover slippery tile floors
- Grab bars near the sink, toilet and shower, which can be fastened to the wall vertically, horizontally, or diagonally
- ADA (comfort-height) toilet to make it easier for wheelchair users to transfer from the chair to the toilet seat
- Shower chairs come in a variety of styles and sizes, including chairs that extend past the tub with armrests and back support
2. Reacher/grabber tool
A lightweight reacher tool with a long handle and rotating grabber claw helps you pick up small or out-of-reach items. This tool is especially useful to anyone with limited mobility or chronic pain, especially those with conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. You simply pull the trigger and let the device do the work for you.
Top 3 benefits of using a grabber reacher tool:
- Improved safety to make hard-to-reach spaces more accessible
- Rotating head to more efficiently pick up oddly shaped items
- Convenient access to difficult areas such as the back of cabinets, top of the refrigerator, or on the floor in a corner of a room
Reacher grabbers extend your reach so you can pick up items without having to climb up, bend over, or get down on your knees. This tool is also a helpful mobility aid for anyone using a walker, wheelchair, or with limited reach.
3. Night lights
A small bedside lamp on your nightstand makes a great reading light. But what if you’re a restless sleeper? Plug-in nightlights offer safety, especially if you’re getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Top 3 benefits of night lights for seniors:
- Motion-activated lights mean no more struggling to find a light switch in the middle of the night
- Makes walking to and from the bathroom easier
- Improved nighttime illumination may help reduce the risk of falls
Various designs and colors are available, and you can opt for a decorative flair, LED, or lights equipped with motion sensors. Some have an on-off switch, but you can also get lights that remain lit all night long.
4. Pill organizer
If you take medications at different times during the day, shop for pill dispensers with a compartment for each day of the week, marked for the morning, noon, night and bedtime.
Top 3 benefits of using a pill organizer:
- Helps eliminate confusion around whether or not you’ve taken your daily pills
- Stores a week’s worth of pills
- Easy open lids make accessing medications convenient even for people with arthritis or weak or shaky hands
If you have an elderly parent with a home health aide, you can fill the organizer weekly to prepare the aide for dispensing the appropriate medication daily. If you prefer, look for a high-tech automated medication dispenser with a timer and locking mechanism.
5. Rug grippers
Breaking a bone can trigger a host of severe health issues, which may require long-term home health services, impacting your ability to live independently. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIH), “more than one in three people aged 65 years or older falls each year. The risk of falling – and fall-related problems – rises with age.”
Top 3 benefits of rug grippers for seniors:
- Help keep area rugs in place
- Provides a non-slip surface for walking
- May help reduce the risk of falls
Whether you have hardwood, tile, or carpeted floors, a rug gripper under an area rug is one of the most helpful hacks for making life easier in terms of fall prevention.
6. Sock aids
One of the daily living activities older adults often lose is getting dressed independently. For example, some people have trouble bending down to put on their socks or stockings, possibly due to age-related limitations or surgery involving the back, hip, or knees. Sock aids are an effortless way to put on your socks.
Top 3 benefits of sock aids for seniors:
- Makes it easier for seniors to get dressed
- Perfect for anyone with limited mobility issues
- Eliminates or reduces the need to bend forward
The device comes with a flexible contoured shell with a cord attached. Start by slipping each sock around the shell while in a seated position. Insert your foot into the shell, and pull the cord toward you so the sock that is wrapped around the shell smoothly glides onto your foot.
7. Jar openers
There’s nothing worse then being in the middle of making your families famous beef bolognese with linguine recipe and not being able to open the jar of tomato sauce. If you have arthritis or weak hands, a jar opener or silicone jar gripper can help prevent injury and the frustration you experience with hard-to-open jars.
Top 3 benefits of jar openers for seniors:
- Perfect strength and leverage tool
- Works as jar opening assistant for anyone with weak or arthritic hands
- Increases grip power
Jar openers come in many varieties including rubber gripper pads, under-cabinet lid and bottle openers, and kits with multifunction openers.
8. Lazy Susan Turntable
Anyone with arthritis or other mobility issues knows how difficult it is to reach items in the back of kitchen cabinets. If you have trouble reaching across the table or into cabinets for condiments or your everyday coffee cup, a lazy Susan can ease that burden.
Lazy Susans spin 360 degrees making items more accessible and easier to reach. You can also use these rotating shelves to help organize items in your bathroom, linen closet, or laundry room.
Top 3 benefits of lazy Susans for seniors:
- Helps organize your salt, pepper, spices, canned goods and other small items
- Multi-compartment plastic models with lids can go in the fridge for short-term food storage
- Rotating shelf helps make items in the back of kitchen cabinets more accessible
Lazy Susans are available in different materials such as wood, plastic, marble, or metal. Varieties include traditional flat models, turntables with sides and multi-compartment versions. For greater organization, look for a Lazy Susan with multiple tiers.
9. Furniture corner guards
Corner guards aren’t just for protecting children or grandchildren from injuring themselves on sharp furniture edges. Older adults are also using them to help prevent skinned knees and bruised shins.
Top 3 benefits of corner guards for seniors:
- Protects you and your guests from sharp furniture corners
- Soft padded foam cushions protect against bumps, scrapes and bruises
- Reduces the risk of head injury in the event of an accidental fall
Senior citizens are more prone to having thin skin that is easily bruised. Add corner guards to protect any of your large furniture pieces such as coffee tables, china cabinets, or dining tables. You can also use them on just about any hard surface even kitchen countertops with sharp edges.
10. Clear the clutter
In addition to modifying your home and purchasing helpful tools, you may find downsizing makes the most significant impact. By decluttering your home, there is less to trip over, clean and pick up.
Top 3 benefits of decluttering your home:
- Get rid of stuff you haven’t looked at in years
- Helps you clean and organize your home
- May help reduce the risk of falls by getting rid of trip hazards and creating safe pathways
If you are a saver, this may sound overwhelming, but you can gradually eliminate items you don’t need. Some people use the one-year rule to help them downsize and get rid of clutter. If you haven’t used something within the past 12 months now is a good time to consider selling, donating, or disposing of the item.
TIP: Remember that sometimes we attach meaning to things at the expense of focusing on our health, safety and independence.
More Home Hacks to Make Your Life Easier
There are many simple hacks that could make life easier, and provide you with the safety and security you need to continue living in your home.
Here are a few more helpful hacks for making your life safer at home:
- Add a ramp with handrails near the main entryway to your home
- Install motion sensing lights at all exterior entrances
- Improve or add extra lighting throughout the inside of your home
- Use color-coded key identifiers to help you locate the exact key you need
- Invest in a large print keyboard for your computer
- Keep a magnifying glass or illuminated magnifying glass by your desk to make it easier to scan bills and read your mail
- Keep a small portable flashlight in your purse or tote bag
And our final life hack suggestion – smartphones aren’t just for calling friends and family. Use the camera on your cellphone to keep track of important information such as where you parked your car at shopping malls and to keep a record of all your prescription medications
TIP: read or companion blog on how seniors are using technology to gracefully age in place.
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Medicare and In-home Care
So, what happens when you start to struggle with certain aspects of your home life yet aren’t ready to sell your home and move to a retirement community? Depending on your plan, Medicare may provide some in-home care benefits.
Home health care services covered by Medicare could include:
- Physical therapy
- Occasional skilled nursing care
- Occupational therapy
- Nutrition counseling services
- Safety services such as transportation to and from doctor appointments
Medicare typically doesn’t cover custodial services for assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing. However, check your plan benefits as limited custodial care may be covered when you also need at-home medical assistance.
TIP: Are you looking for a health insurance plan that covers more of what you need at a price you can afford? Use our handy Plan Finder tool to help you find a Medicare plan that includes the doctors, coverage and services you need.
Aging in Place Resources
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- Shower chairs and other durable medical equipment
- Chair yoga and other activities to help improve balance
- Home health services and additional Medicare benefits
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