Oak Crest Village Certified Wildlife Habitat

Oak Crest Village Certified Wildlife Habitat

Whether searching for a senior living community for yourself or an assisted living facility for an aging parent, you likely have a list of amenities that the community should have so it meets your lifestyle requirements. Does the community allow pets? Check. Does it value spirituality? Check. Does it have a swimming pool? Check. Now there is another amenity you can add to the list:  Does the community incorporate sustainability practices into its operations? Sustainable practices result in the saving of energy and water usage, which means lower utility bills, and can also create a more scenic community, in case of having wildlife-friendly habitat.

The goods news is that senior living communities are supporting their residents’ efforts to implement sustainability practices, such as by adopting a community-wide recycling program or adding raised beds to grow flowers and vegetables. If sustainability and eco-friendly living are important to you, be sure to check out our list of senior living communities which we created in recognition of Earth Day. These communities have adopted sustainable practices, whether by becoming ENERGY STAR©certified or incorporating wildlife-friendly habitat practices into their landscaping.  We expect this list to grow as more communities adopt these practices, not only because of the anticipated cost savings, but because it makes business sense since consumers are expecting businesses to be good stewards of the environment.


New California Assisted Living LawsWhat criteria would you use when selecting a senior living community for your parent:  that it’s pet friendly; affordable; close to shopping and the staff seem friendly? What about its inspection history? Did you even think to ask for a community’s inspection records or notice the latest report posted on the wall as you took a tour of the community? If you didn’t, then you’re not alone.

Just as restaurants are inspected to confirm the restaurant and its staff are in compliance with state regulations regarding food safety and handling, so too are senior living communities subject to inspection when providing assisted living services or memory care. Surveyors or inspectors visit the communities, whether to investigate a complaint or for licensure renewal, to confirm the community is in compliance with state regulations, such as managing medication properly or maintaining a clean living areas. The results of the visit are documented in an inspection or survey report. These survey reports, when reviewed over a period of several years, can reveal insight as to whether a community is failing to correct repeat deficiencies or is consistently providing a safe environment.

Many states have the inspection records online, whether in a summary form or the actual inspection reports. However, because these inspection reports are often not posted on a community’s homepage or in an online senior living community directory, you will likely not think to search for these inspection records when looking for a community for your parents. Which is why SeniorHomes.com is posting the inspection records of a community on each community’s profile page. This way you have a one-stop place to review the community’s cost, amenities and inspection history without having to visit multiple websites.

Currently, we are piloting this feature for senior living communities in San Antonio, and we want to hear your feedback as to whether including the inspection records are helpful in your search. To view the inspection records of a San Antonio community, visit San Antonio Assisted Living. Clicking on the State Records tab allows you to see all the licensed communities and where they rank in terms of deficiencies. To see the inspection history for a specific community, click on the “Communities” tab and click on “Get Info” for any community. On the community’s profile page, click on the “Records” tab to see how this community’s deficiency history ranks against others and its deficiencies.

Our goal is to post the inspection records for all licensed communities within Texas and eventually other states as well. Please let us know of improvements we can make in displaying the inspection records or if you want to know more information about a community, such as whether it has received fines. To learn more about how to find inspection records for other states, visit our State Licensing Center.



There are many single people at my retirement community. Some move in without a spouse, others lose their spouse while living here. Often the men die first and the women remain. We have 29 single men, 103 single women and 101 couples living here. A grey-haired female friend shared a recent observation with me: all the female partners of single men have colored hair. Is there a message in that bit of research? So while spending my last stop being single is not my first choice, I believe living in a CCRC makes being single easier.

Read my thoughts, experiences, complaints and even some good things about being single in old age in my latest post Being Single.

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”

Last week, we discussed the many transportation options that exist to help aging adults maintain their independence after handing over the car keys. Now that you’re familiar with the alternative transportation choices and know where to turn to find out what resources exist in your local area, you are prepared to have this difficult discussion with your aging loved one. But how do you start the conversation, and how is this difficult subject broached successfully?

First, know the warning signs Elderly woman in car

The first step is determining whether it’s really time to have the talk with mom or dad about their safety on the roads. HelpGuide.org outlines several warning signs that could indicate it’s time for an aging adult to stop driving. Some key warning signs include:

  • Taking medications with warnings against operating vehicles or machinery - While some medications have warnings regarding drowsiness, dizziness and other side effects, some also have explicit warnings advising patients not to drive or operate heavy machinery until they know how a medication will affect them.
  • Combined medication effects - Some medications can cause stronger or different side effects when combined. If your loved one’s physician has prescribed a new medication, it’s a good idea for mom or dad to avoid driving until they know exactly how this specific combination of medications will affect them. Your loved one’s pharmacist can also be a helpful resource for learning about the side effects associated with certain medication combinations.
  • Vision impairment - Vision deteriorates with aging for many older adults. Problems with vision, such as a loss of peripheral vision, can create challenges for older adults behind the wheel, making it difficult to interpret the full visual field. Likewise, sensitivity to light, trouble seeing in the dark or blurred vision are safety concerns for drivers.
  • Hearing impairment - While it is possible to drive with a hearing impairment, auditory cues are more important than you may think for safe driving. When older adults experience sudden or significant hearing loss, it may be time to evaluate their safety on the road.
  • Slow reflexes and decreased range of motion – Drivers must be able to react quickly and adapt readily to sudden changes or unexpected situations on the road. Older adults with slowed reflex response and decreased range of motion may not be able to react quickly enough to avoid accidents.
  • Problems with memory – If your aging loved one is suffering from memory loss, it might be time to consider having the talk about giving up the car keys. Memory impairment can actually be quite dangerous for older adults who drive. For instance, a memory lapse could cause your loved one to forget where she was going and sometimes just keep driving until she realizes she’s in unfamiliar territory.
  • Too many close calls – If your loved one has had multiple close calls or minor accidents, scrapes and dents, it’s time to take a look at whether it’s time to stop driving.

When you realize the dangers that exist if your aging loved one continues to drive, starting this difficult conversation becomes a bit easier to broach. All it takes is a split second and a single mishap for an accident that could cost the life of your loved one or another passenger or driver. Here are some tips for starting and following through with the discussion.

Understand it may take several conversations

The first time you bring up the subject of handing over the car keys, your aging loved one may not immediately acquiesce. Often, learning that he/she is unsafe on the road is difficult to hear and a harsh reminder that he/she is, in fact, getting older. Be gentle when you bring up the topic and plan ahead so that your first discussion is happening well before it’s urgent that your loved one stop driving immediately. This allows you time to have a preliminary discussion, get your loved one’s thoughts about her safety behind the wheel, and find out what specific concerns she may have about no longer driving.

Do your research and offer alternative transportation options

Once you learn what your loved one’s concerns are and whether she feels that it may be time to stop driving, you can do some research. If being isolated and unable to get to important appointments or to the grocery store is a concern, present a specific plan for meeting these needs and information on the alternative transportation options available in your local area.

Be respectful of their independence and opinions

Ultimately, the decision is not yours alone. Unless your loved one is incapacitated, the choice to stop driving is truly his, although you can provide input and support. Be respectful of your loved one’s desire to maintain his independence and offer advice and opinions while stating your commitment to ensuring that his independence is maintained should he decide to give up his car keys.

Know your options when the need is urgent

Unfortunately, some families encounter situations in which an aging loved one is truly unsafe on the road yet he/she can’t accept that it’s too dangerous to continue driving. If the need is urgent, and it’s imperative that you get your loved one off the roads as soon as possible, there are legal options. Most families turn to these options as a last resort, as they’d rather not have to force their loved ones to hand over the keys against their will. If you reach this juncture, here are a few legal options for getting your aging loved one to give up the car keys recommended by AgingCare.com:

  • The physician - Older adults may be more likely to listen to the advice of their physician, so enlisting the doctor’s help to talk with mom or dad about giving up the keys can be helpful. In fact, the American Medical Association recommends that physicians counsel their patients directly, and they can even ask for and accept the car keys. A physician can also write a medical status report that caregivers can take to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • The optometrist or ophthalmologist – These providers can have a similar discussion with an older adult as a physician would, explaining how the patient’s vision impairments make it unsafe to continue driving.
  • Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles - As a family caregiver, you can meet with your local department representatives to present background and health information. This is followed by your request for your aging loved one to receive new vision exams, paper tests and possibly an examination drive with an inspector. Decisions or actions are determined by the inspectors, and the driver receives notice prior to the renewal date on her driver’s license. Even if your mom or dad passes all required tests and exams, you’ll at least have peace of mind that she is deemed safe to drive independently. Note that each state has its own licensing standards and protocols, so the specific process may be different depending where you live.
  • The family attorney – An estate attorney can discuss the implications for the estate with the family should an accident occur, such as a loss of assets should a lawsuit arise from an accident. Your attorney may agree to sit down to discuss the reasons why mom or dad should stop driving with you and other family members.
  • The police - While most caregivers hesitate to take this step, notifying the police for minor accidents and violations facilitates the creation of a report, and the police can make their own request to the Department of Motor Vehicles for new testing if they feel it’s warranted.

Having this conversation with an aging parent or other aging loved one is never easy. But when you consider the alternatives and the dangers that exist if an elderly driver continues to operate a vehicle when it’s truly dangerous, you may realize it’s time to put your fears aside and do what’s necessary to keep your loved one and other drivers and passengers safe on the road. Above all, remember that your loved one’s safety and ability to remain independent are the top priorities.


The worst of winter is over, and we’ve been cooped up indoors for far too long. It’s time to go outside and enjoy the fresh air! Last time, in part one of our series on senior-friendly DIY projects, we talked about projects seniors can do indoors.

Outdoor DIY Senior Projects by Shayne Fitz-CoyFor part two, these outdoor DIY projects are the perfect excuse for spending time in the sun, and you’ll be able to enjoy your creations all spring and summer long.

Build a raised bed garden

All you need for a raised bed garden is a raised bed. You can create your own out of wood, or you you can get creative with your containers. A metal tub, wooden crate or a big pot can be perfect for small gardens! Just remember to put some holes in the bottom for drainage.

Create planters

Small planters can go anywhere: your garden, your patio or in your kitchen. You can plant individual flowers or herbs in these little containers.

Here are some fun ways to create planters:

• Yogurt containers are great for upcycling. Wash them and use your creative talents to give them a coat of paint.
• Mason jars look great in kitchens. They’re perfect for keeping individual herbs within easy reach.
• Paint cans have lots of room for roots, and their outsides are ideal for decorating. Paint them, glue on decorations or wrap in fabric. Let your creativity shine!
• Tea cups and mugs are fun ways to show off succulent gardens. Put those dusty cups in your cupboard to good use! They look great lined up on windowsills.
• Rubber rain boots don’t do any good sitting unused in the closet. Fill them with dirt and plant some flowers in them. Rain boots and flowers are a colorful and quirky combination.

Create a backyard theater

Construct a projector screen with a plain white sheet tied taut between two branches or pieces of PVC pipe. Grab a projector, some cushions and some popcorn, and you will be ready for a moonlit movie night.

Reuse an old chandelier

Do you have an old chandelier lying around? Hang it in your garden as a bird feeder! Add bowls on each branch where the lights used to be and paint the whole thing to look like one piece. Fill the bowls with birdseed and sit back to watch the neighborhood birds. The chandelier will add elegance to your garden and your feathered visitors will love eating in style.

Fill the cracks

Weeds love to grow where they are not wanted—like in the cracks in your cement. Fill the cracks with some concrete crack filler to prevent those weeds from sprouting up.

Use basket hooks

Basket hooks are perfect for small spaces. Flower baskets are a classic way to brighten your garden or patio. To literally give off light, hang small solar lights. You can find them for cheap in your local dollar or garden store, and they look like classy sconces hanging off of the hooks.

Clean your windows

Get a fresh start this spring. Now that the sun is shining and the birds are singing you will want to look outside as much as possible! Take some time to clean your windows so you can enjoy the outdoors when you are inside.

Seal your wood

Once the snow and rain is gone, you should take the time to care for your wooden tables and patios. Give them a good scrubbing and then paint them with sealant. While you are at it, you can stain or paint them for a brand-new look.

Spruce up your pots

There is nothing wrong with terracotta pots, but there’s nothing exciting about them either. You can easily pretty them up with paint. This is a great project to do with the grandchildren, too!

Update your mailbox

Your mailbox and house numbers are your house’s first impression. Make it a good one! You can find house numbers in a variety of styles and colors in your local home improvement store. As for your mailbox, you could get a new one, or you can paint and decorate your existing one. If you have a freestanding mailbox, try creating a little flower garden around its base.

Enjoy the outdoors

Get outside and stretch your legs. Have fun with these projects and enjoy the warmer months!

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company with offices nationwide. Shayne is an NAHB Certified Aging in Place Specialist with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business

Sunshine with blue skies, mild temperatures, white beaches and the scent of fresh Pacific Ocean air abounds for seniors living at Holiday Villa East (HVE) in Santa Monica. The theme for this year’s Earth Day, which falls on April 22, is “It’s Our Time to Lead,” and Earth Day is the perfect opportunity at HVE to appreciate and celebrate our environment.

Joan's Journey April Teaser ImageIn the past Earth Day wasn’t an event I identified with or marked on my calendar. This year, however, SeniorHomes.com is paying tribute to our earth with a series of blogs highlighting socially responsible green and sustainable practices at senior living communities. Joan’s Journey will explore such practices at HVE in an upcoming April post.

Throughout April a large, decorated container will sit in the north living room, and residents, staff and visitors are encouraged to spring clean and donate unwanted clothes and items. On Earth Day the collection will be given to our neighborhood GoodWill Industries Thrift Shop where many of our residents walk to and shop.

Earth Day, or Mother Earth Day as the 45-year-old celebration is called in many countries, started in 1970 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The worldwide day, week and monthly activities spreads the awareness that we humans are the shepherds of our planet. Annually Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries with events held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Sponsored by Earth Day Network, a consortium of 22,000 organizations worldwide, events are held to educate and inspire individuals, businesses and governments to take immediate action to end extreme poverty and address climate change.

Journeyer’s, by participating, YOU and your contributions are making our Earth a better place to live. In the comment box below, SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in practicing sustainability. Until the next Joan’s Journey, enjoy the trip day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren

Senior-friendly transportation optionsDo you expect to have the driving conversation with your parents this year? If so, you’re not alone. According to the the Federal Highway Administration’s 2012 estimate, there were approximately 23.1 million licensed drivers who were 70 years and older. And when you finally do broach the subject, your parents will likely use the argument that they have to drive— how else can they go shopping or reach doctor’s appointments. If you don’t live in the area or know a family friend who can chauffeur your parent around, the argument might persuade you to concede that they can drive a bit longer, even if you know it’s unsafe. Fortunately, there are community transportation resources available that you can turn to, and many are specifically for seniors.

Of the grants which are distributed to the states for funding programs to serve older adults, the Transportation for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities (5310) grant is solely targeted to funding transportation services for seniors and adults with disabilities. The funding, which is distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation through its Federal Transit Administration, is appropriated based upon the number of seniors and persons with disabilities residing in a state as per the latest U.S. census data. States then allocate the funds via a grant or another funding process to private nonprofit groups, government agencies who provide services where no nonprofit is available, or government agencies which coordinate the transportation services. These groups may only provide transportation services or could also offer other social services as well, such as meals, operating senior centers or legal aid.

What are the transportation options?

One reason why older adults may be reluctant to relinquish the car keys is because they think that the public transit system is the only option. For some seniors, riding the bus may be overwhelming and they may not be able to reach a bus stop, especially if they aren’t within walking distance. But public transportation agencies have made great strides to provide alternative transportation options besides just buses. King County Metro, as an example, offers a van service that provides door-to-door service for riders who are unable to ride buses.

Nonprofit organizations which operate senior centers or the local Meals on Wheels program may also offer a transportation service. Washington State-based Senior Services has a Hyde Shuttle program which provides van transportation for seniors and people with disabilities to medical appointments, grocery stores and other places as needed.

For a private transportation option, families can consider turning to ITNAmerica. This nonprofit organization has affiliates across the nation that provide transportation in a local metro area. Instead of being funded by grants, membership dues support the organization. The annual individual membership fee may vary by affiliate (iTNGreater Tuscon is a $50 while iTNLehigh Valley is $60) and family memberships are also available. For each ride, there are charges that include a pickup charge, per mile cost or same-day service.

ITNAmerica doesn’t consider itself a taxi service because its drivers provide door-to-door service, even accompanying riders to the door or helping with packages. Instead of vans, seniors ride in the comfort of a personal vehicle. What also makes the service senior friendly is drivers aren’t paid at the time of service; rather the cost of the ride is deducted from a prepaid account. The only drawback to this service is not every major metro has an ITNAmerica affiliate.

Finding a transportation option for a loved one

The one-stop-resource that should be the first on your list to call is the local Area Agency on Aging where your parent lives. Here you can find the resources available in the area. Even better, you can find an advocate who can help connect you with the services your aging parent needs to remain independent, albeit without the car keys.

Though loved ones may be resistant to using a transportation service, fearing it won’t fit within their schedule or believing they are still capable of driving, they should realize that these transportation services are designed to make life easier. After all, think of how much money will be saved not having to pay for car insurance or maintain a car. There is also the bonus of meeting new people during the ride. Yes, it will take a bit of adjusting to scheduling shopping trips and doctor’s appointments, but that’s a small price to pay for protecting your parents’ lives and other drivers on the road.

With these resources in hand, you will be prepared to address your parent’s argument for relinquishing the keys. But if you still need advice how to broach the subject, visit our blog next week as we discuss how to start the conversation.

This year is a significant anniversary date for a number of Federal programs that impact all Americans—it’s the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicaid, Medicare and the Older American Act. The impact of these programs in funding healthcare services and providing security for seniors cannot be overstated. As the American population ages these programs will be of greater importance, especially with seniors no longer having the safety net of a company pension and facing increasing healthcare costs that accompany living longer. And when you consider the other lesser-known issues of aging, such as who is going to care for the aging population and how to serve under-represented populations of seniors, the situation seems insurmountable when taking into account the coordination of services and funding required across all three levels of government and with nonprofit organizations.

Since 1961 the White House Conference on Aging has served as an opportunity for government, nonprofits and senior advocates to discuss how the policies related to aging can be improved or expanded to better serve older Americans. The conference is held once each decade, and 2015 marks this decade’s conference. Before the actual conference scheduled later this year, there are a series of forums hosted around the country. April 2 was Seattle’s turn to host the forum, and Cleveland and Boston will host theirs in April and May respectively.

The issues and ideas that are discussed at these forums will serve as discussion points at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging scheduled for later this year in Washington, DC. Though these forums are invite only, as is the conference, the public is invited to share their thoughts and stories on aging. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging website is the one-stop place to submit comments and view webcasts of the forums.

At the Seattle forum there were two panel discussions, Healthy Aging/Long-term Supports and Services and Retirement Security/Elder Justice. The topics discussed included the need to provide services for under-served senior populations, the increased costs associated with living longer and how to develop more effective resources for protecting seniors from abuse. One comment that struck me was said by Laura Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. She said that a century ago, death wasn’t associated with old age, as it was common for someone of any age to become ill and die two weeks later. Now, thanks to technology and science, people expect to live into their 70s and 80s, if not into their 90s. While this is cause for celebration, as who doesn’t want to see grandparents or parents live longer, it also has societal ramifications that we must now face and address within the next decade as the baby boomers enter retirement.

Welcome to April! It’s difficult to realize that spring is already here, but after the wintery weather that most of the country has experienced, I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the milder temperatures and the promise of summer that spring brings. Many assisted living facilities have dedicated gardening areas

This month SeniorHomes.com is covering variety of topics in our forthcoming blog posts. Continuing our theme on the inevitable physical losses that accompany age, we will highlight the loss of mobility and when it’s time to discuss relinquishing your parent’s car keys. Fortunately for seniors still living at home, there are other transportation opportunities available, which we will also highlight.

Shayne Fitz-Coy will highlight other senior-friendly DIY projects if the spring cleaning urge strikes you, and in her The Last Stop column, Margery Friedstein discusses single living at her retirement community.

In recognition of Earth Day on April 22, we will have a series of posts highlighting sustainable senior living. Joan Journey’s will discuss the green practices at her retirement community. For seniors who would prefer joining a retirement community that practices sustainability, later this month we will unveil a list of communities to aid in this search.

To start off the month, we’ll dust off a few earlier articles we wrote on senior living going green:

A Trend Toward Living Green in Retirement

Atria Senior Living’s Going Green Practices

Sunrise Senior Living: Growing Green Practices at Communities

Promoting Wildlife-Friendly Habitat at Retirement Communities

In the coming months, we will also discuss the caregiver/care-receiver relationship and just in time for summer, how seniors can safely enjoy the sunny weather. If there is a topic you would like to see featured, please let us know in the comment field below. Until next time…

The aging process often leads to a decline in mobility among older adults. According to Mescape, anything that influences the musculoskeletal, neurological or cardiorespiratory systems can impact mobility. Pain and obesity are two key predictors of mobility challenges that accompany aging, and chronic conditions can exacerbate mobility issues, as well as disabilities such as vision or hearing loss.

Mobility issues not only make it challenging for older adults to navigate without assistance through their homes and public spaces but, in severe cases, can make it difficult to perform other activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing and dressing. A loss of mobility doesn't mean a loss of independence.

Predictors of mobility loss

Musculoskeletal pain is a common complaint among older adults, and while the specific pathway is unclear, it’s suspected that severe pain in the lower body causes people to become less active. This decreased activity contributes to a decline in muscle strength and the development of mobility limitations.

That said, studies have shown that musculoskeletal pain contributes directly to mobility limitations even when other factors on the pathway, such as self-rated health, chronic conditions and symptoms of depression, are accounted for. This loss of mobility occurs directly through impairments and functional limitation. One example is a hip fracture, which causes persistent pain in many cases and poor muscle strength and power in the affected leg. Despite proper treatment of the fracture, a hip fracture often leads to muscle power asymmetry in the legs, and subsequently, mobility decline.

Obesity is another proven predictor of loss of mobility, although the specific impacts of obesity on mobility have only recently been studied in-depth. Obesity contributes to a loss of mobility through the increased mechanical load placed on the body, “which increases their energy expenditure, placing increased demands on aerobic capacity and muscle strength compared with normal-weight individuals doing similar physical tasks,” Medscape describes.

A 22-year follow-up study found that individuals, who were overweight in midlife but without impairment, were at double the risk of future mobility limitations compared to peers of the same weight. When being overweight was compounded by two or more impairments (poor hand grip strength, squatting test or self-reported difficulties with running), the risk of mobility limitations is six times that of a normal-weight peer without impairments.

Of course, other conditions contribute to mobility loss; Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis all impact the central nervous system (CNS). Additionally, a decrease in bone mass or density, a decrease in flexibility of the joints, muscle atrophy, and other changes in the muscle tissue can also contribute to a loss of mobility.

Challenges of loss of mobility

A loss of mobility leads to a myriad of challenges and increased risk of injury in older adults. According to HealthInAging.org, mobility issues can increase the risk of falls, which can lead to serious injury such as hip fractures or even head injuries. Even if a fall does not lead to an injury, older adults then develop an increased fear of falling. This fear in turn leads to a decrease in activity, facilitating a vicious cycle of decreased activity contributing to a greater loss of mobility.

A loss of mobility makes it difficult for older adults to navigate certain areas of the home, such as bathrooms which often have tile flooring that becomes slippery when wet.  It can also become more difficult to walk freely throughout the home or navigate outdoor areas, such as a lawn or sidewalk, where the terrain is not level or unfamiliar. Driving can become more difficult as reaction time slows.

Preventing loss of mobility

A landmark clinical trial published by the University of Pittsburgh and seven other field centers in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May 2014 found that physical activity prevents loss of mobility among older adults. As a result of this longest-running randomized clinical trial evaluating physical activity in the elderly, the study recommends that something as simple as a 20-minute brisk walk around the neighborhood each day can significantly help older adults maintain their ability to walk.

“The study showed that prescribed daily physical activity would prevent older adults’ loss of mobility, defined in the study as the inability to walk 400 meters, or about a quarter of a mile. That is approximately equal to a trip from a parked car to a grocery store or a walk through a neighborhood,” according to the University of Pittsburgh’s published report.

For older adults who have already experienced a loss of mobility, remaining as physically active as possible will help to prevent further decline. Lifestyle modifications, changes to the home environment, and mobility aids are other solutions that help older adults with mobility loss maintain their independence. These solutions include:

  • the use of mobility aids, such as a walker, cane, or wheelchair
  • ensuring the home is clutter-free and free of clear hazards that increase the risk of trips and falls
  • one-level living modifications
  • ramps and other easy-access modifications
  • grab bars in bathrooms

There are many tools, aids, and modifications that can make life simpler for an older adult with mobility decline. Medical alert systems, for instance, can provide a safety net for older adults should they happen to fall when caregivers or other family members are not readily available to help. The degree of decline, the individual’s current living environment, family support, and other factors should be carefully considered when developing a plan for an older adult to continue to live independently, but safely, when a loss of mobility is present.