Here it comes — just in time — spring, and the promise of warmer weather to come. After this long and challenging winter, many of us are suffering from an extended case of cabin fever. Have you thought about how this might affect the elderly?
Many times we put a lot of thought and resources into making the inside of the home safe and easily accessible to seniors, and rightly so. However, many times we overlook the outdoors, and by doing this, we are essentially (and unintentionally) making the senior captive in his or her own home. Let’s change that with just a few modifications:
• A ramp can be purchased and installed fairly inexpensively, making the entrance in and out of the home much easier for someone with a wheelchair or a walker.
• Door hinge extenders can help to widen a narrow doorway, many times giving you the few extra inches that make going in and out so much easier.
• Once outside, cement pavers can be easily laid down to secure a safe and even pathway from the house to the outdoor area.
• An outdoor glider or park bench will provide a nice place for your loved one to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air.
Once you’ve made the outdoors easily accessible, be sure to be present and “test drive” this with your loved one, making sure he or she can manage safely.
Many times we take for granted the benefits of going outdoors for the elderly, and that is because we are so focused on keeping them safe inside. While we need to do that, let’s not forget the benefits of keeping them safe outdoors as well. This can have huge health and psychological benefits.
So, young and old, let’s all welcome spring in a big way by getting outdoors and enjoying it. And spring — please, please stay around for awhile.
Information provided by Shelly Charter, Valley View Village, 2571 Guthrie Ave., Des Moines, 265-2571.