Due to the fact he needs assistance to continue his walking routine, Lori’s Hands has enabled him to not only remain active but also provide him with a form of companionship. This gentleman has Alzheimer’s which is a disease close to my heart.
Millions of people over the age of 65 fall in their homes. Many older adults, our Lori's Hands clients included, want to age in their homes. Accidents happen and falls are, unfortunately, a part of aging for many people. However, there are many ways to prevent falls. As part of my summer internship with Lori's Hands, I attended an Easter Seals Disability Services workshop on Fall Prevention for Older Adults at their New Castle location. Guest speaker Adam Samuel from Avenue Medical spoke on “Accessibility in the Home: Simple Solutions to Complex Issues”. Avenue Medical provides assistive technology and accessible home modifications for older adults with disabilities. These modifications provide a safe and functional home environment so people can remain in their homes.
At Lori’s Hands, we want to provide a safe and accessible environment for our clients. I learned some tips at the Easter Seals workshop that we can all use when working with our clients. To reduce the chance of falls in our clients' homes, we can:
-Improve lighting. Brighter lighting helps a person see better and can prevent falls. Place lamps near clients' beds and open curtains to let in sunlight.
-Keep floors and stairs free from clutter.
-Make sure rugs and mats are skid proof or secured with carpet tape.
-Pick up or move items that may cause an accidental fall.
-Roll up hoses and pick up tools in the yard.
-Make sure all handrails are firmly attached.
-Make sure entrances/exits are accessible to walk through.
-Move hard-to-reach items to lower levels in cabinets and closets.
Next time you're out helping a client organize, clean or put away groceries, think about how you can do more than help with a chore -- think about how you can help prevent a fall.
Written by: Alyssa Benjamin
According to the University of Nebraska, service-learning experiences are important for undergraduate health care students. In particular, when students work with older adults, they gain skills and experiences as they engage in intrinsically rewarding service activities. After working with older adults, undergraduates' empathy levels increase and, often, a strong intergenerational companionship develops.
I have definitely developed strong relationships with my older adults clients this summer. During my service learning internship experience with Lori’s Hands, I have made it my goal to make our clients happy and do what ever I can to make their days amazing. I also want to help our clients be aware of their home environments and make their homes safer for them to live in as they age in place. I love working with different clients every day and building great relationships with them.
One of my clients, Ellen*, is married but recently her husband has been admitted into a nursing home. Ellen can no longer provide care for him because he is very ill. On our visits, we help her with grocery shopping, putting away her groceries, and cleaning her kitchen. We also pick up loose papers and items around her living area and put them in safe places that won't put her at risk for a fall. She is always so appreciative of everything we do for her!
Each week, I also visit Edith* to get her groceries. Edith, my volunteer partner Christina, and I discovered that our birthdays are two days apart from each other - we’re all May babies!
I also visit a World War II veteran who looks forward to talking each week, a client living with MS who loves swimming and barbecue sandwiches, and so many other interesting people.
I have loved getting to know our clients this summer and have experienced what the researchers suggested comes from service learning - truly rewarding intergenerational relationships.
Written by: Alyssa Benjamin
Source: Gelfand, Donald E., and James P. Firman. "Developing and Implementing Service-Learning in Aging." University of Nebraska Omaha. Web. 31 May 2016.
*Names changed for privacy