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Marjorie P. Lee Senior Living Blog

4 Changes That Help Adapt Senior Apartments to Life with Arthritis

May 30, 2015, 11:00:00 AM

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If you have a parent or senior family member with moderate to severe arthritis, you can help improve their comfort at home by making these changes at their house or apartment.

1. Adjust the Bed

Anyone who lives with arthritis, of any kind, will tell you that it’s often a struggle to get a good night’s sleep—they just can’t find a position that alleviates pain and soreness. And, sometimes, it can be difficult to even get into bed.

Here’s how you can help:

First, adjust the height of the bed so it is ideal for the senior’s height and health situation. If they have difficulty getting into bed at night or out of it in the morning, you’ll want to lower the bed enough so that their feet land squarely on the floor when they sit on the edge of the bed. The angle of the sitting position should be exactly perpendicular to the floor.

Second, ensure that the bed is firm or soft enough to provide a level of comfort that will enable them to experience restful sleep. You don’t even have to buy a new mattress: If the bed is too hard, you can add an eggshell foam pad and sheepskin covering over the mattress and under the fitted sheet. If the bed is too soft, a plywood plank inserted between the mattress and the box spring will increase firmness.

2. Modify or Update Chairs

Evaluate all the chairs in your senior loved one’s apartment. Kitchen chairs should have thick seat and back cushions. Consider replacing living room chairs with the newest in mobility chairs. These chairs have electric articulating seats that slant upward when the sitter wishes to get up and out of the chair. Also, make sure all chairs and couches have plenty of pillows to adjust for lumbar support.

3. Switch out Hardware as Needed

Arthritis in the hands and fingers makes it difficult to perform fine motor skills like twisting handles and pulling chains. Walk through the apartment with mom or dad and do a thorough review of all the hardware:

  • Cabinet handles
  • Faucets
  • Light switches
  • Lamp Switches

If they have difficulty with anything, switch these items out with easier to use versions, such as a clap on/off systems for lighting.

4. Install Safety Features

Fall-related injuries are no stranger to arthritic seniors who are unsteady on their feet. To keep your loved one safe at home, you’ll want to look into making changes in several locations in the apartment:

In the bathroom—

  • Install a grab bar just outside the shower for aiding in getting in and out of the tub.
  • Install a grab bar in the shower at elbow height for vertical stability while showering.
  • Install a grab bar next to the toilet to help in standing and sitting.
  • Consider placing a phone extension or personal alarm system in the bathroom in case of emergency.

In the bedroom—

  • To prevent tripping, tape down or remove any area rugs.
  • Minimize clutter that could be a tripping risk.

In the living room—

  • Keep wires to a minimum to reduce the risk of tripping. Tape down wires that cannot be removed or replaced with a wireless device.
  • Remove clutter that can be tripped over.
  • Tape down or remove any area rugs.
  • Place a phone extension on a table next to the most common seating area.

In the kitchen—

  • Place all commonly used items like cups and dishes at a low, easily-reached height.
  • Cover stove heating elements with decorate covers to avoid accidental burns.
  • Install child safety rubber corners on sharp kitchen counter edges.

These simple changes will help to ensure that your parent or other elderly loved one will be as comfortable and safe as possible in their senior apartments, even when arthritis makes life hard.

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Bryan Reynolds

Written by: Bryan Reynolds

Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

Topics: senior apartments

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