As members of the baby boomer generation enter their retirement years and beyond, finding tips and tricks for life in general for the senior and elderly populations is more relevant than ever. With ideas on how to make things easier in many different areas of life, a caregiver's job can become easier and more rewarding as he or she helps those who need assistance.
Life hacks are a series of tips and ideas to do daily tasks better. The life hacks here tackle specific categories that seniors and the elderly, as well as their caregivers, will find useful. Dealing with healthcare to memory and fitness to self-care, as well as areas of the home that can be problematic such as the kitchen and the bathroom, these life hacks will give everyday life a bit of a boost.
Skim this list of ideas and find some new life hacks for seniors you can start using right away, whether you're at home, out shopping or visiting with family and friends. With a bit of ingenuity and effort, you can use these life hacks for elderly and caregivers to make your daily tasks easier and more enjoyable.
Life Hacks for Seniors and Elderly
When it comes to life as a senior, there are several things that can become problematic that never used to be in the past. Although this can be frustrating, the good news is that there are lots of ways that simple adjustments or changes can facilitate everyday activities. This list of life hacks for seniors will get you started on making the day-to-day necessities less of a chore.
Life Hacks for Memory Boost
- Use your smartphone to take a picture of where you parked.
- Get colored covers for the tops of your keys so you can easily identify which key goes to which door. For example, blue for the front door, green for the inside garage door and so forth.
- Remember new people's names by repeating the name out loud immediately. For example, after you are introduced to someone, use his or her name in your initial greeting, such as, "Nice to meet you, Sally."
- Use brain training apps on your smartphone to help improve your memory. Some of these include Lumosity, Brain Trainer, Eidetic and Cognifit Brain Fitness.
- Include foods in your diet known for their memory-boosting power, such as fish, dark green and leafy vegetables, avocados, berries and nuts.
Life Hacks in the Kitchen
- Wrap rubber bands around each of your glasses. It will improve your grip and help prevent breakage.
- Keep rubber gloves on hand to help you open difficult jars. The traction and grip of the rubber gloves will give you an extra boost for twisting off tight lids.
- Wet a sponge, put it in a Ziploc bag and then freeze it to make a quick ice pack that won't leak.
- Put non-skid liners under your kitchen rugs to avoid slips and falls.
- Get an extension grabber to help you reach items that are in high-up cabinets with ease, and put only lightweight items higher up to make them easier to grab.
Life Hacks in the Bathroom
- Install a bar in your shower and/or bathtub to help you lower yourself and stand back up in the tub as well as stabilize yourself and help prevent slips in the shower.
- Replace your current toilet seats with comfort-height seats that are higher than traditional ones. These make it easier for you to sit down and stand back up without strain.
- Use non-slip mats on the bathroom floor and in the tub and shower. Since bathrooms collect water more frequently than other rooms, slip prevention is key!
- If memory is an issue, ensure hot and cold water are properly marked by using a blue and red dot (paint or even nail polish works) on the appropriate side.
- Get a shower chair to use in the bathtub or the shower if you have trouble standing for long periods of time.
Life Hacks While Out Shopping
- Before you go grocery shopping, use your smartphone to take a picture of your refrigerator and/or pantry. You can refer to this as you are shopping to see what's missing.
- Instead of a purse, consider using a fanny pack for your shopping trips. You can keep it closer to you to prevent theft, and you won't accidentally leave it or forget it somewhere.
- Consider home grocery delivery. There are many grocery stores that will let you shop and then deliver your groceries for you, or you can even check out online ordering services.
- Check packages for easy-open options, especially for over-the-counter medicines; check to see if the package is childproof, and if so, look for one without childproof caps.
- Buy pre-chopped produce and pre-bagged salads to cut down on the time, strain and risk of having to cut in the kitchen.
Life Hacks for Staying in Shape
- Use a chair to do sitting jumping jacks by sitting in place while raising your arms and moving your legs in a jumping-jack motion.
- Use soup cans as lightweight dumbbells to do easy lifting exercises with your arms.
23. Do knee-bend exercises while keeping your balance by using the back of a chair.
24. Use an elastic exercise band wrapped around your feet while seated to help build upper body strength with rowing moves.
25. Use a stability ball for a simple workout with a chair.
Life Hacks for Caregivers
As a caregiver, you're concerned with safety, ease and convenience for the person you're caring for. These life hacks for caregivers will help you facilitate daily tasks both inside and outside of the home so that you can effectively provide care for seniors and make their lives easier.
Life Hacks for Helping With Cognitive Abilities
- Engage seniors with memory-building games. You can either buy a pre-made set of memory cards or make your own cards personalized to the life of the person you're caring for, with matching photos of loved ones, pets and items in the home.
- Take pictures of the contents of storage containers and tape them to the outside of the containers so your senior can easily identify what's inside.
- Create a guessing box with a variety of items inside, such as easy-to-handle and soft, non-harmful objects, and ask your senior to guess what they are.
- Limit choices when asking questions to cut down on confusion. Rather than asking an open-ended question that offers a wide range of possible responses, give your senior a specific set of choices in response. This can be done when asking about what clothes he or she wishes to wear, or what foods he or she wishes to eat.
- Music is said to help concentration, so try playing some classical music by Beethoven, Bach, Chopin or Mozart to both relax and stimulate cognitive function.
Life Hacks for Mobility
- Attach key rings to the ends of zipper pulls to provide a larger surface to grip and ease of movement for seniors to keep their autonomy while dressing.
- Attach any small throw rugs to the floor with double-sided adhesive tape to help prevent slips and falls.
- Reorganize storage areas like cabinets and pantries so that the most-often-used items are located at arm's length or lower down. Put rarely used items in the harder-to-reach spots to optimize storage space.
- Place foam stoppers on any doors that automatically lock or close automatically. This will help prevent accidental lockouts as well as accidents with doors closing on fingers and hands.
- Use childproofing items such as bumpers for sharp furniture covers and drawer locks for drawers with dangerous or hazardous items that the person you are caring for should not have unsupervised access to.
Life Hacks in the Bathroom
- Use spice racks installed on the wall to help organize various bottles and containers. These can be installed at arm's length so that they are easy to reach and can provide easy access to the most-used items in the bathroom. It also helps keep clutter off the sink area.
- Use a nonskid stool if there isn't already a stool or chair installed in the tub or shower to help with bathing tasks.
- Ensure nightlights are in place at nighttime in the bathroom as well as hallways leading to the bathroom. This helps with safe nighttime bathroom trips and avoids illumination with harsh light that can disturb getting back to sleep.
- If the senior uses a bar of soap, put it inside a pantyhose stocking to provide a sheer netting that allows for use of the soap while minimizing slipping. This also helps prevent the soap bar from sliding away if it drops.
- Use a foam kneeling pad, such as those used for gardening, to help alleviate the strain on your knees if you have to frequently bend down for bathtub assistance or other bathing tasks.
Life Hacks for Bathing and Dressing
- Let the person you're caring for keep control and dignity by framing your language in ways they will respond to positively. For example, "You tell me if you want help," is a good phrase to insert when you are giving a bath or dressing.
- Dry shampoo can be a great option if washing hair with water is a difficult task that cannot be undertaken on a frequent basis.
- Clothing with velcro or zippers is much easier to manage than clothing with buttons. Replacing buttons where possible with options like velcro or zippers makes it possible for the person you're caring for to get dressed more easily and thus keep more autonomy.
- Lay out clothing in the order that it needs to be put on to cut down on confusion and help the person you're caring for maintain independence and control. For example, you could start by placing items on the bed with the first item on the far left and the subsequent items moving toward the right. The important thing is to help the person you're caring for understand the order and then establish this as a set routine.
- Placing a small hand towel over the rubber bath mat in the shower or tub can give the person you're caring for an additional focal point and added cushioning to help as they enter and exit the shower or tub.
Life Hacks for Encouraging Exercise
- When weather permits, take a daily walk with a specific goal in mind that can be accomplished during the walk. For example, you could establish that you will count all the blue cars you see, or the number of traffic lights. This gives a cognitive workout as well as a physical one.
- Play "catch" with a large and light mobility ball. You could start out facing each other, close enough to pass the ball back and forth, and take one step back each time one of you receives the ball. Make a goal of a set number of steps to reach, or continue until passing or throwing the ball is no longer feasible.
- Use a whiteboard calendar with magnets on the refrigerator to list one exercise or physical activity to work on every day, and when the task is complete, mark it with a different colored dry erase marker as completed.
- Take a "treasure hunt" walk using a predetermined list of things to find during the walk and a smartphone camera to document each item. By printing out the pictures, and perhaps having each treasure hunt list theme-based, these walks could be made into a series of photo albums!
- Turn household tasks into exercise activities, such as raking leaves, putting away groceries or other physical tasks around the house.
Whether you are a senior or a caregiver for the elderly, these life hacks can help you put a bit of convenience and creative fun into daily tasks, all while preserving independence and dignity in aging.