Conversations With My Grandma
Growing up, my grandma played a huge part in my life. I vividly remember playing on the farm she spent her adulthood in — I was always so eager to see her. My grandma is a simple woman, she enjoys being around people, seeing her family, and reading books — typical grandma things, at least to my understanding. I had never considered my grandma to be old —- albeit her exact age is a secret. My grandma travels with the family, she goes on walks, she goes to the gym and for a senior, she's quite active. After writing step2health I became more aware of the challenges seniors face.
A few days ago, I called up my Grandma on Zoom — its been our favorite platform to talk on lately, especially during this pandemic. While I normally call my Grandma to talk about anything and everything, I told her that our conversation would be focused just on her and in particular, on her being a senior. I asked her a couple of questions and summarized them for clarity — my grandma and I go on lots of tangents.
All seniors are different and experiencing aging in place and old age differently. Since everyone’s experience is so unique, I thought it would be fun to show my grandma’s experience as a senior. She is one of the most kindhearted, sweet, and loving people in the world, and I will definitely be having more senior zoom sessions with her in the future.
My Grandma Answers My Biggest Questions
What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed about becoming a senior?
My grandma’s repose to this was quick — the biggest change that comes with old age is your bones and your joints. She tells me that when you’re old, your body doesn’t work the way it used to. You feel pain in your body doing things that used to be easy and now have become difficult and a pain.
My grandma also told me she doesn’t have the same amount of energy she used to have — however for a single woman in her 80s she is very independent and seems to get by just fine without any assistance. Sometimes in the mornings, my grandma loses feeling in her legs and has to use a cane to start walking and to catch her balance. Over the years, the morning numbness has gotten a little worse, but she has been a real trooper of seniors when it comes to aging in place as she is constantly adjusting to make her home better for senior living.
Tell me about the time you broke your hip.
My grandma broke her hip when she was living in a rural farm town in Firebaugh, CA. She was home alone and was on an office chair on wheels. While reaching for something, she ended up falling out from under her chair. The impact was painful and she was unable to get up. My grandma being the strong woman she is managed to drag her body from her office all the way to a phone to call an ambulance. On top of that, she was able to unlock the door for the paramedics so she could go to the hospital.
I had never given much thought to how my grandma reacted in those situations and upon reflection, I am so impressed with her. Seniors, when met with the right (or wrong circumstances) seem to have an amazing about of adrenaline running through them when they need to, however, I think it would be best if my grandma had been able to wear a device where she could automatically press a button and the ambulance could come. Products like lifealrert would be great for her.
What makes you want to age in place as a senior?
For my grandma, aging in place and remaining in her home was the logical move — she considers herself to be very independent. She told me that one day she may move to a retirement home if she has to and that some of her friends have moved into a retirement home, but for now, she loves being at home on her own and being able to have full control over her life. My grandma also made a great point though — there is nothing to be ashamed of needing to go to an assisted living facility, some seniors need the extra care. It’s important to assess your needs on an individualized basis. If you want to stay in the home longer and can make adjustments to your home to age in place, then by all means go for it!
That brought me to the question…
What adjustments have you made to your home or to your life to make it aging in place friendly?
One of my grandma’s biggest tips for aging in place is to put plug-in night lights in each room and have them on a timer so they turn on at night. Night lights are best in frequently used rooms, but definitely put them in your bedroom and the bathroom, she says. Night lights can help drastically reduce the risk of falling especially in seniors. In addition to night lights, my grandma also keeps her home very clean, so tripping hazards are hard to come by.
Another tip my grandma had for me related to the kitchen. I love my grandma with all my heart, but she is no chef. In fact, she tends to avoid the kitchen at all costs! Instead of cooking, she is subscribed to a meal plan service where meals are delivered to your home at whatever frequency you please. All my grandma has to do is put the food in the microwave. She uses Freshly. Freshly is great because the meals are healthy, and you can customize them based on your dietary preferences.
I’m glad that my grandma uses a meal subscription service because there is lower risk of a kitchen accident. I don’t worry about my grandma forgetting to turn off the stove or the oven (even though her memory is still sharp).
Then, we talked about the step2bed
My grandma had heard of the step2bed before, and was intrigued by it — she knew it was a product she would likely need in the future and that it was a product that her friends would need. We both agreed that the step2bed is great for any senior or adult who has even a little bit of trouble getting in and out of bed. After all, the step2bed was designed with seniors’ safety in mind. With the step2bed seniors can get in and out of bed with extra support and a step to make it easier for them to reach the bed. Fall prevention is so crucial in old age, and my grandma is quite familiar when it comes to injuries. I reminded my grandma that even if a senior feels like they are in the best shape of their life it can never hurt to be extra careful and actively implement products in your life to help reduce the risk of falls.
From my zoom call with my grandma, I learned that aging isn’t easy and aging can be different for everyone and can progress at different times. A huge takeaway I received is to frequently check on your body and what you need and to never push your body too much. Assess yourself and your home to make the best decisions for how you can age in place and stay in the home longer.