We're Here to help with the Loss of a Upper Limb

Loss of Upper Limb

As your loved one ages, they may begin to feel weak or helpless as they begin to need help with everyday tasks they used to complete independently.  One of the most drastic changes your loved one may experience is a loss of mobility in their arms, hands, and fingers.  Life changes like mobility loss often cause fear, stress, confusion, anger, and even depression in older adults as they struggle to adjust to their new “normal.” 

Loss of Mobility

We Understand the Risks

We rely on manual strength and dexterity for many everyday activities.  While your loved one may experience some new challenges associated with the loss of mobility in their upper limbs, there are many simple changes you can help them make to overcome these obstacles, improve their quality of life, and maximize their independence.

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Safety Concern 1

Around the Kitchen

Cooking can be difficult for older adults with limited mobility and dexterity.  Make sure your loved can access their kitchen by considering the following:

  • Small knobs and handles may be difficult for them to grasp and open. Consider installing D-handles on drawers and cabinet doors to give them easier access to these areas.
  • Widen silverware with foam padding to help your loved one better grip their utensils.
  • Knobs may be difficult for your loved one to turn and adjust to the right temperature.  Consider installing a hands-free faucet with an anti-scald device in your loved one’s sink to make doing dishes a pain free process.  Bonus:  invest in a hands-free soap
  • Wrap masking tape around the edges of jar lids to improve your loved one’s grip. You may also want to consider investing in a gripping tool or electric jar opener to help your loved one open tough jars. 
  • Canned goods may be problematic for your loved one. Pull tabs may be difficult for them to grasp and regular can openers can be a nightmare.  Try giving your loved one an electric can opener to help them safely open cans.

Safety Concern 2

Dressing and Hygiene

Everyday tasks, such as dressing and bathing, can become difficult or downright painful when your loved one loses strength and dexterity.  Some simple modifications and tools can help your loved one regain their independence and maintain their dignity. 

  • Improve your loved one’s grip by wrapping rubber bands or cycling tape around commonly used items (like bottles, hand rails, toothbrushes, etc.).
  • Buy your loved one an electric toothbrush to ensure they are able to painlessly and effectively brush their teeth.
  • Put shampoo and conditioner in soap dispensers so your loved one can pump out premeasured amounts of soap.
  • Provide your loved one with an elevated toilet seat they can use to safely get on and off of the toilet. A wiping aid may also be essential to ensure they are able to stay clean and hygienic.

Replace buttons and zippers with velcro and elastic so your loved one doesn’t have to fiddle around with complicated clothing

Safety Concern 2

Dressing and Hygiene

Everyday tasks, such as dressing and bathing, can become difficult or downright painful when your loved one loses strength and dexterity.  Some simple modifications and tools can help your loved one regain their independence and maintain their dignity. 

  • Improve your loved one’s grip by wrapping rubber bands or cycling tape around commonly used items (like bottles, hand rails, toothbrushes, etc.).
  • Buy your loved one an electric toothbrush to ensure they are able to painlessly and effectively brush their teeth.
  • Put shampoo and conditioner in soap dispensers so your loved one can pump out premeasured amounts of soap.
  • Provide your loved one with an elevated toilet seat they can use to safely get on and off of the toilet. A wiping aid may also be essential to ensure they are able to stay clean and hygienic.

Replace buttons and zippers with velcro and elastic so your loved one doesn’t have to fiddle around with complicated clothing

Safety Concern 3

Everyday Life

Many aspects of your loved one’s life are changing as they age.  Help them regain a sense of normalcy by ensuring they can go about their everyday life with as few changes as possible.

  • Invest in large button phones and remotes for your loved one so they can easily go about business as usual.
  • Consider using “smart” devices in your loved one’s home so they can control their lights, thermostat, and more through voice commands.
  • Help your loved one easily complete chores by providing them with a multi-use cart to move items independently.
  • Rearrange their home to ensure daily use items are easily accessible. Try not to store any items where your loved one would have to stretch or bend to get access to it.
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Safety Concern 4

Adapting to Dexterity Loss

Don’t forget to care for your loved one’s emotional and mental needs as you are addressing their physical needs.  Coping with mobility loss can be difficult.

  • Provide your loved one with exercises they can do to improve dexterity and strength in their upper limbs.
  • Help refocus your loved one on what they can still do without modification or assistance.
  • Listen to your loved one’s concerns and needs without judgment. They are the expert on their life.

Conclusion

Loss of mobility can often leave older adults feeling hopeless and helpless.  This can be a difficult adjustment for our loved ones and their caregivers alike as they adjust their way of life to accommodate these new needs.  Staff at Beverly’s Daughter are standing by to help make these changes easier on your family.  Simply consult your loved one’s primary care physician for a list of home accommodations/modifications and send it to us for review; we’ll contact you within 48 hours with a customized plan for your loved one’s home so they can continue living as independently as possible.  Let us help your loved one age comfortably and gracefully into this new era of their life.

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