skip to main content

Caregivers tell us they’re frustrated, frantic, frazzled and fatigued. We've spoken with thousands on the phone and do so everyday.

The last thing a caregiver needs to feel guilty about is not doing their part for the environment. Its the furthest thing from their minds - being green, being environmentally conscious, being eco-friendly, managing your carbon footprint, being eco-friendly, living green, and other buzzwords like ‘sustainable’. Its a bit too much sometimes. Especially when someone like Al Gore is giving a speech about it and then takes off on a 12-person Gulf stream jet with just himself on board.

There are, however some simple things you can do. The recent recession opened new doors for environmental conservation - even for those helping care for loved ones. In a world increasingly impacted by the effects of climate change, it’s more important than ever support efforts that promote sustainability and green living. Supporting the environment and saving money as long as it doesn't cost you time makes both sense and “cents.”

With this in mind, there are a handful of simple options for you to consider. God knows you have enough on your plate. Examples are reusable adult diapers and recycled or re-purposed handicapped shower modifications.

Here’s 5 more...

All Natural - The success of eco-friendly efforts largely depends on your willingness to adopt new lifestyle habits. Cooking from scratch, growing your own vegetable garden, and buying meat and dairy products from local farmers helps reduce shipping costs and helps loved ones eat healthier. Because they come into contact with fewer artificial additives and hormones, local, organic produce is a better choice for all seniors. Using all-natural cleaning products, like those listed here, can also cut down on water usage and contamination while keeping your senior away from noxious chemicals.

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle-That’s the EPA’s mantra. Remodeling projects, especially those for the bathroom, can be completed using recycled or repurposed materials. If you’d like to install a helpful grab bar in your senior’s shower, consider using salvaged pieces to do the job. If you’d like to get a little more creative, items found at antique fairs (like silver utensils or door pulls) can be repurposed as robe hooks, and unused dishware and pottery can keep unused junk from cluttering up small spaces.

Did you now that over 50 percent of married couples over the age of 65 rated a recycling bin as an “essential item” in their homes. By having those you care for engage in this daily ritual, you can also engage them in other acts of environmental awareness.

A New Approach to Incontinence - Depending on your senior’s health conditions, it may be necessary to have adult diapers on hand as a basic component of their care. However, as the third largest consumer item in the United States, these products comprise over seven percent of all domestic landfill waste. Because the topic of incontinence products is often one of embarrassment, many people do not know all the options available to them. While the term “biodegradable” often tossed around to convince consumers that a product is an environmentally smart choice, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, not even biodegradable diapers break down in a landfill. Because many diapers contain traces of plastic and other synthetic materials, it can take up to 500 years for them to decompose. Thankfully, there are other smart choices you can make for your senior. If possible, choose washable, reusable products - try these stylish options which will save both money and the environment over time. Here is another great choice - fannypants. There are also high quality washable bedpads and chair pads.

Return to Old Ways - While caring for a generation known for its conservation skills, it’s helpful to return to concepts that were popular even before the advent of the “green” movement. Older generations are used to canning and freezing food for later, mending clothes, and making due with less. Find creative ways to give clothes, household goods, and even food products a new lease on life. Old clothing that is frayed or torn can be transformed into a new blanket or pillowcase to brighten up your loved one’s living space. Glass jars and reclaimed wood can be reused for interactive arts and crafts projects.

Smart Home Sustainability - Certain “smart” home systems can reduce the time and gas spent travelling between your home and that of your elderly loved one. The latest advancements in health technology can monitor vital signs, track your senior’s location, and dispense medication according to schedule. For someone who is less mobile, consider installing a taller toilet (called Comfort Height) that complies with ADA guidelines and also uses less water with each flush. Looking at the list of ENERGY STAR-rated appliances can give you an idea of which products offer the opportunity improve the energy efficiency of your senior’s home. Caregivers interested in brightening up a senior’s living space with greenery should use plants native to the region. Fido and Fluffy can go green too - purchase pet food and litter made without artificial ingredients and toxic chemical additives.

The options for Earth-friendly senior living can be simple, not take extra time (maybe even save some) and are easier today due to recycle facilities, pick up, etc.

(This guest post by Beth Kelly originally appeared on the CareGiver Partnership blog.)


About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.