Solutions to help meet the older adult’s health and home needs include:
Finding health tools and programs
Considering devices and home modifications
Getting in-home help
Finding Health Tools and Programs
If the older adult would like help keeping track of medications, suggest:
Putting medications in a pill box or getting pre-filled pill boxes
Getting multi-dose pill packs, sorted by when pills are taken
Using an electronic pill dispensing system, a pill box with timer that signals when it’s time to take pills
Setting alarms or telephone reminders
Marking when to take medications on a chart or calendar
Ask if a pharmacist or other health professional has reviewed the older adult’s medications recently. During a medication review, ask health professionals:
To explain what each medication is for
To describe how to take each medication
About possible side effects or drug interactions
Whether any medications can be stopped
Whether any medications can be taken less frequently or at more convenient times for the older adult
If the older adult would like help keeping track of appointments, suggest:
Marking appointments on a calendar in the home
Putting appointments in an online calendar and setting reminders
Sharing online calendar appointments with a relative or friend who can help keep track
Using an online patient portal system to track appointments
Getting approval to see the older adult’s appointments in the patient portal system
Keeping a list of the older adult’s health professionals, with their contact information, when the older adult saw them last and when the next appointment is due
Ask the older adult how health professionals’ offices send appointment reminders. Ask if the older adult would like to get different kinds of reminders, like emails or phone calls, or multiple reminders. If so, ask the offices about their reminder options.
If the older adult has special diet, testing or care needs for chronic conditions, ask health professionals what resources could help. There may be guides, online tools or educational programs especially for the older adult’s health conditions or needs.
Look for organizations for people with chronic health conditions, including in person and online support groups. Contact the local Senior Center, Aging and Disability Resource Center, Aging Unit or Area Agency on Aging to ask if they offer programs on living well with chronic health conditions.
Considering Devices and Home Modifications
Ask if the older adult is interested in using a cane, walker, stair lift or other assistive device. Look up device options on AbleData.Org. Find state programs that offer devices to try out or take home on ATAPorg.Org. Contact the local Aging and Disability Resource Center, Aging Unit or Area Agency on Aging to find device lending programs and help with proper device “fit.” Look for instructions about how to use each device.
Ask if the older adult is interested in home modifications, like ramps or walk-in showers. Explore options through HomeFit Guide presentations by state AARP chapters, HomeFit online materials or HomeMods.Org. For professional help including home assessments, look for local Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists or visit RebuildingTogether.Org.
Getting In-Home Help
Ask if the older adult wants help with housekeeping, home maintenance or meals.
Ask the local Aging and Disability Resource Center, Aging Unit, Area Agency on Aging or Senior Center if they offer or can recommend programs that help with tasks around the home. Ask for the area Meals on Wheels contact. Ask if there is a “Village” or other local organization that connects members to reliable in-home service providers. See if area religious, United Way or other community agencies have volunteer programs that help with tasks around the home.
Before the older adult lets anyone into the home, ask for references. Get background checks and license information, if applicable. Check the state caregiver registry. If the older adult will be hiring help, read the “Learn about hiring paid in-home help” and “Learn about working with paid in-home help” articles in the Home Safety section.