Tips to Make Daily Living Easier for Seniors

Tips to Make Daily Living Easier for Seniors

Many of us say that we want to live at home as independently as possible throughout our golden years. But what does that really mean?

For most of us, it means that anything that we can’t control is a loss of independence. That might mean being unable to drive yourself around, having trouble standing in the kitchen long enough to cook a meal, or finding it difficult to get in and out of the shower.

Losing independence sometimes happens in an instance, such as if you were to suffer a serious medical problem, like a stroke or a hip fracture.

But loss of independence is more often a gradual thing, where seniors slowly lose the ability to manage the activities of daily living that so many of us take for granted when we are younger. These routine tasks were simply another thing on the to-do list years ago – but for the elderly, things such as taking medications on time or shopping for food can become exercises in frustration.

The activities of daily living, often referred to by the shorthand ADLs, are the tasks necessary to live safely at home and stay as independent as possible. These include (but are not limited to):

·        Feeding yourself

·        Toileting safely

·        Walking independently

·        Controlling your bladder and bowels

·        Handling personal hygiene, such as showering or brushing your teeth

·        Getting dressed appropriately for the day

Those are the basics. But there are also other activities, known as the instrumental activities of daily living or IADLs, that can impact a senior’s independence. These important skills include (and again, are not limited to):

·        Shopping for food and other necessary items

·        Preparing food to eat

·        Doing the housekeeping, such as cleaning the bathroom or doing laundry

·        Using transportation (whether public transportation, hired cars, or driving your own vehicle)

·        Using the telephone and other ways to communicate

·        Managing your finances

·        Taking your medications at the appropriate dosages and times

Managing these activities can help seniors remain at home, happily independent, for longer.

Tips for Daily Living

According to a study in The Journal of Frailty and Aging, there are some common factors that can lead to a loss of independence among the elderly.1 These include:

·        Poor physical health

·        Poor mental health

·        Social isolation

·        Unsuitable living conditions

·        Being housebound

·        Having few resources at your disposal

The good news is that most of those threats to independence can be overcome, treated, or otherwise handled through careful consideration and talks with your doctor, family caregiver, and other individuals who may be able to assist you.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can stay independent for longer.

Handling Basic Hygiene

This is one of the most important points of staying comfortable, safe, and healthy at home.

·        Invest in aging in place home modifications. These modifications can include a walk-in tub or roll-in shower, grab bars around the toilet for safety, or brighter lights around the house.

·        Use adaptive devices. Long-handled sponges and brushes, soap and shampoo dispensed by a motion-activated pump, a handheld shower wand, and long-handled nail trimmers are all ways to continue keeping up with good hygiene as you get older.

·        Easy to don clothing. When getting dressed, turn to button hooks, tops with Velcro closures, and slip-on shoes and pants.

·        Healthy teeth and gums. Using an adaptive toothbrush and toothpaste that is dispensed from a pump rather than a tube can make it easier to keep your teeth and gums in good health.

As you think about how life is changing and the help you might need in the future, it’s time to add Alert1 to your arsenal of helping hands. Don’t wait until something bad happens to get a medical alert bracelet or wristband. These emergency button alarms can summon help 24/7 for just pennies a day.

Shopping for Essentials

Shopping can be a long, involved process. It requires getting dressed and ready to go, making a list of the things you need, choosing the places you will go to get those things, driving or otherwise taking transportation to the store, selecting the items you want, paying for them, and carting them back home. And there could be many other little steps along the way.

If difficulty arises at any point of the process, it can hinder your ability to live independently.

One good remedy for this is to do your shopping online. Most local grocery stores now offer either free curbside pickup or affordable delivery. If you have mobility issues and can get to the store but can’t safely or comfortably walk around to shop, you can order pick-up and get some fresh air while you wait for your groceries to be loaded into your vehicle.

If you choose delivery, the items can be sent straight to your door. This can include everything from local groceries to exotic goods from the other side of the world.

Preparing Food and Eating Meals

Once you get groceries in the house, you must be able to prepare food. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to cook elaborate meals! But it does mean that you must have the ability to keep yourself fed.

If you are dealing with any sort of mobility issue that makes it difficult to get around the kitchen, consider looking for foods you can heat up or prepare using a microwave. Many stores now offer pre-cleaned and cut vegetables and fruit, as well as meat and fish dishes that are prepared but not yet cooked. Easy foods, such as soups and the ingredients for sandwiches, are also a good idea. Just watch out for salt and additives.

What if you have issues with arthritis or other conditions that make it tough to use your hands for day-to-day activities? Look into utensils with long or shaped handles that are designed for easier cooking and eating. Use electric openers that open up cans with a single touch. Invest in adjustable, ADA-compliant hardware for your cabinet and drawers, as well as specialized handles for the knobs of your stove. And rather than use the stove and handle heavy (and hot) pans, look into a toaster oven or a small convection oven.

Basic Housekeeping

Keeping your home tidy and free of clutter is important to assure your safety.

·        Make use of baskets or pouches. Carrying a basket around the house to collect clutter from various rooms can make it much easier to tidy up. You can even do this if you use a walker or wheelchair. Just attach the pouch or basket to your assistive device.

·        Pare down. Now is the time to embrace Marie Kondo’s philosophy of tidying up! Keep only the essentials and those things you can’t live without. Do you really need that stack of magazines you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t touched in months? Do you need to keep those old cans of paint that are probably dried out a bit now anyway? Make good use of your trash can and get rid of anything in your way.

·        Use front-loading washers and dryers. Reaching down into a washer to pull out heavy, wet clothes can be difficult for anyone, but it becomes especially troublesome for those with limited upper body strength. That’s why a front-loading washer is your friend! And though reaching into a dryer is much easier, the low profile of the machine means you must bend down to pull out the clothes. Putting both the washer and dryer on pedestals can make life so much easier. And while you’re at it, choose washers and dryers with touch controls – no knobs or buttons.

·        Hire a service. Housekeeping services can take over what you need and nothing more. Do you have no trouble dusting but can’t handle the vacuum anymore? They can clean your floors. Do you need someone to handle cleaning your bathroom but you’re fine with cleaning the kitchen? Call them in to just handle the bathrooms. From targeted areas to the whole house, there are many options through a housekeeping service. Places like Comfort Keepers can help.

·        Get help with trash. When it comes to the risk of falls, few household chores can up that ante more than taking the trash down to the curb. You’re struggling with a large, heavy, and ungainly container, often steering it across uneven terrain. Rather than put yourself at risk, ask a neighbor or friend for help in taking the trash out. Keeping your independence is important; it’s ok to ask for some assistance from time to time.

If it has become more difficult to move around your home, it’s time to consider a medical alarm. These life-saving devices can work wonders for keeping you safe from the more dire consequences of a fall.

For example, let’s say you take a tumble and hit your head hard. In a situation like that, each passing moment without treatment can make the situation worse. But if you have a medical alert system with fall detection, the device can alert a monitoring center on your behalf, ensuring that help is on the way even if you can’t communicate with the person on the other end of the line.


Getting around is an integral aspect of living independently. Going to your doctor’s appointments, getting out to socialize with friends, picking up groceries, and going to spend time with the grandkids are all elements of happy, healthy senior years. As your ability to handle transportation begins to diminish, it’s important to find other ways to get around.

Let’s say you aren’t comfortable with driving any longer. What’s your backup plan?

Though there are modifications for vehicles that can make it easier to drive, it’s important to consider what you will do when it’s time to give up driving. Taking public transportation is a good way to handle your local travel needs, especially if you find buses or vans that accommodate those with mobility issues. But what if you don’t have public transportation in your area?

Rideshare services, like Lyft and Uber, have special programs to help the elderly get around. Hiring someone to drive you for errands once a week or so is also a great idea. You could carpool with friends to get to where you all need to go, or plan your outings with a family caregiver.

If you live in a dense urban area, consider a mobility scooter. These zippy little carts can help you get around with ease and can even be fitted with baskets and trailers for that trip to the grocery store.

Taking Medications Properly

As we get older, the odds of taking medications goes up. Did you know that a whopping nine out of ten elderly adults over the age of 65 takes at least one prescription medication each day?2 And considering that chronic conditions become more common as we get older, it’s not surprising that most seniors wind up taking a handful of medications every day.

Those medications can be tough to keep up with, especially if they have different dosage requirements. For instance, it might seem easy to remember to take a pill every morning with your breakfast, but what if you are on other medications that need to be taken at night, or every other day, or even just once a week? Here are some ways to manage.

·        Choose a medication reminder, organizer, and dispenser. Simply load the medications into the machine, set it for the appropriate times to dispense them, and then pay attention to the alarms that alert you that it’s time to take your meds. Get a family caregiver to help you figure out the device if you need assistance.  Alert1 offers a top-notch version of this handy organizer.

·        Have prescriptions filled automatically. Your local pharmacy will almost always offer the option of automatic refills. This means that your medications will be ready at the same time each month.

·        Have prescriptions delivered. You can also choose mail order pharmacies, which can send the meds right to your door, usually on a three-month schedule.

Communicating Well

Proper communication with others is essential to stay safe and secure while you grow older at home. Over time, those buttons on the cell phone seem to get smaller and smaller, don’t they? It can become difficult to use the phone, especially as the software updates bring more intricacy to the device.

Now is the time to invest in other ways that allow you to communicate well.

·        If you have trouble with hearing, you might be heartened to learn that hearing aids are available over the counter. Talk to your doctor about visiting an audiologist to test your hearing.

·        Intercom systems can allow you to talk with others in the household, and speakerphones are a great way to make sure you can hear everything over the phone.

·        If you find that speaking is difficult, keep a pen and notepad with you at all times to write down what you might need to say.

·        Choose a medical alert pendant to provide peace of mind. If an accident occurs or any emergency strikes, simply press the button and get in touch with someone who can help you. And if you can’t speak, that’s okay – the live, highly-trained professionals at the monitoring center will know just what to do.

As we age, the risk of falls goes up. To that end, consider a personal alarm button from Alert1 to be your constant companion as you go about your activities of daily living. There is nothing simpler than pressing the button on your medical alert device to get the help you need, right when you need it.