CogHere2Serve
August 11, 2022
Est. Reading: 7 minutes

How to make an elderly parent's home safe

Is it beneficial for an elderly parent to remain at home? It is situational! Our houses offer us a sense of security, comfort, and continuing freedom. Therefore, allowing a senior to remain at home makes sense, correct? Not always. Deciding on the safety of the home environment is critical. Assess your parent's living circumstances and assist them in securely aging in their own home using this list.

Eliminate fall risks. For seniors, falls are the main cause of injury. To minimize fall risk and promote elder home safety, one of the most critical things to do is to make the house fall-safe. This may be accomplished by doing the following:

Throw rugs should be removed.

While they may be attractive, they often lack a rubberized backing that improves their hold on the floor.

Eliminate accumulated clutter.

Newspapers, loose clothing, and shoes are all examples of this.

 

Old furniture should be discarded or donated.

 

Increase the openness of the surroundings. This will be simpler to do if Mom or Dad is still walking and not reliant on a wheelchair or walker. Doorways should be at least 32" wide in the latter instance to allow for access.

 

Consider any tight corners immediately before or after a doorway. These may obstruct access and prevent mobility.

Extending extension cables over the floor are not recommended.

When indoors, ensure that your loved one is wearing non-slip footwear.

Keep emergency contact information on hand. Is your loved one a mobile phone owner? Observe your mother or father making or receiving a call - is there any difficulty? Cell phones may be equipped with a plethora of additional features. Consider a more simple model. Seniors may find an abundance of choices to be confusing, expensive, and unneeded. Equip the function with a bigger keypad and a display window. These will be more accessible and visible. Additionally, you may configure a telephone's "call display" function. Mom or Dad can quickly determine if an incoming call is from a relative or a stranger. Aging brains are not always capable of recalling critical information. Make it simple for your loved one to summon assistance by placing a message in big characters near each phone and on the back of their mobile phone.

Make certain you include the following:

911

Contact information for emergencies (family members and friends)

Professional caring for your elderly

The office of your senior's healthcare provider

1-800-222-1222 Poison Control

Take precautions against fire. Senior home safety also involves the elimination of fire risks inside the house.

Replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries regularly (after seasonal time changes).

Inspect all gadgets and lights in your loved one's house for frayed electrical cables. Replace frayed or broken cables and keep the number of cords connected to power strips to a minimum.

Candles should be removed from the house. Candles may ignite a fire if left alone.

Remind elders to leave the house slowly in the event of a fire. This minimizes the possibility of smoke inhalation. Seniors should be instructed on how to "stop, drop, and roll" if their clothing catches fire.

Encourage the avoidance of the usage of space heaters. If your loved one is adamant about using one, keep it a minimum of three feet away from drapes, beds, and furniture. Remind your loved one to switch off the space heater before retiring or leaving the home.

Ascertain a secure bathroom. The bathroom is often the most dangerous area in a senior's house. Falls and scorching are frequent occurrences here.

To guarantee the safety of your loved one, take the following precautions:

Add grab bars to the shower and next to the toilet.

 

To avoid unintentional burns, set the water heater's thermostat to no more than 120° F.

 

To avoid sliding, line the bathtub with rubber mats.

 

Consider substituting a walk-in tub for the original bathtub.

 

 

In the tub, place a customized bathing chair. Your greatest option for a bathing chair is one that fits in the shower as well.

Install a showerhead with a handheld wand. These may be more convenient to use, particularly when cleaning difficult-to-reach areas.

 

Substitute an elevated toilet seat with handlebars for the original toilet seat. Toilets should have a height of between 17 and 19 inches. Seniors will have no difficulty sitting or standing.

 

Remove the mirror from the bathroom. If mom or dad is exhibiting early symptoms of dementia, it may be disconcerting to see an unfamiliar face staring back at them.

Incorporate a nightlight into your bathroom. This will benefit the elderly who may need frequent toilet visits throughout the night. Additionally, install a nightlight or two along the path to the restroom to assist elders in navigating.

Evaluate the bedroom. You may believe that danger cannot lurk in a senior's bedroom, but you are mistaken! Seniors may face many possible dangers here. Make the following changes to ensure your loved one's safety in the bedroom:

Substitute a firmer mattress with a drooping, softer one. This will be much more comfortable, offer additional support, and avoid trapping a senior who is resting.

Install a telescopic grab bar between the floor and the ceiling in the bedroom. My family put one of these on Mom's side of the bed to provide her with a handhold while entering or exiting the bed.

 

Substitute a single-lever doorknob for the circular bedroom doorknob. An elderly citizen may simply press down on this lever to open the door. Replace any other round doorknobs in the senior's house while you're at it.

 

Evaluate lighting. Aging eyes are not always as functional as they once were. Seniors may underestimate or avoid parts of their house that are gloomy.

 

Any burned-out light bulbs should be replaced.

 

Replace existing light fixtures.

 

Install motion-activated lights throughout the house and on the outside.

 

By standing in one corner of a room and gazing across the room, you can test all of the illuminations. Are you able to discern a clear path? If not, add more lighting.

 

Pay a visit to the senior citizen's kitchen. The kitchen is often referred to as the "heart" of the house. As such, it seems only natural for family caregivers to devote significant effort to make this area safer for a senior.

Remove any things saved at a higher level. Assess the utility of these goods. Are they still in service? How often are they utilized? If they still function and are regularly used, keep them at a lower level.

Is it necessary to reach for items? If this is the case, offer a stepstool for Mom or Dad. Choose a stool that is no more than one or two steps tall.

Provide rubberized kitchen sink faucet covers. These are often simpler to grasp and spin and come in two colors: red for heat and blue for cool. These items are often available at senior supply stores.

Replacing traditional "twist and turn" kitchen faucet handles with "single-lever" knobs. Seniors will find them much more convenient to utilize.

The refrigerator should be opened. Wipe it clean and toss any food that has passed its "best before" date. Carry out the same procedure with pantry cupboards. When shopping for mom or dad, family caregivers should keep portion sizes and nutrition in mind. After all, seniors may eat less, eat less often, or skip meals altogether. If mom or dad lives in a group home with a common dining area, they will get the majority of their daily meals. Mom or dad may still want to nibble between meals, which allows family caregivers to supply them with nutritious snacks (e.g. yogurt, granola bars, nuts, cheese and crackers, and fruit).

Consider any flight of stairs.

My parents' first retirement residence was a lovely place. The outdoor steps, on the other hand, were a challenge for my mother, who was losing strength and flexibility owing to Parkinson's illness. As a consequence, she would tenaciously drag herself up these steps to reach the front door regularly.

Consider stairlifts.

Stairlifts may be installed inside or outside the senior's house on a bespoke basis. Make an appointment with a competent physician in your parent's hometown to determine what is feasible. Stairlifts often have high weight capabilities. If anything blocks the stairlift's path, the safety systems will activate and the stairlift will come to a halt. Additionally, they are battery-powered and will not fail in the event of a power outage.

Stair rails should be inspected.

This does not need you to be a handyman. Take hold of the railing and shake it back and forth. If the railing wiggles somewhat, it's time to repair it. Replace the railing or tighten all nuts and bolts.

Distinguish between stair treads.

A senior who has just limited eyesight may be unable to distinguish one stride from the next. To improve elder home safety, family caregivers may paint the tops of stairwells a contrasting color. Additionally, stretching a strip of different-colored duct tape over the top of each stair may help identify each step.

In the winter, clear the steps (and adjacent walkways) of ice and snow. If you are unable to do this task regularly, engage a local provider. If such a service does not exist, give the job to a neighbor's child for a reasonable wage.

Remain secure inside the confines of your house. With your loved one, go through common-sense safety precautions. While it may be tempting to answer the door to someone who "looks good," proceed with caution. Additional tasks and reminders for your senior include the following:

Install a peephole in the front door of your senior.

When you are alone in your house, do not open the door to strangers. Affix a reminder note to the wall near the entrance door that reads, "Do you recognize this individual?" If not, refrain from opening the door."

Always secure windows and doors.

To avoid mail theft, install a postal slot in the front door.

Accept no telephone offers. Believe nothing a caller says about a family member is in danger. Over the phone, never give your financial details or Social Security number. If a person is really in danger, a police officer will visit you.

Notify your loved one about continuing frauds aimed at elderly citizens.

Maintain contact with them regularly. Finally, elder home safety requires regular contact with a loved one. You, the neighbors of your loved one, and a professional caregiver may all contribute to their safety.

Do you share a town or city with your elderly parent? Unannounced visits allow you to get a better understanding of how your parents are doing.

Keep an eye on an elderly person during periods of severe heat or cold (when the risk of heatstroke or frostbite is higher).

Encourage your loved one to wear an alert necklace in case of a fall.

Remind a senior to walk more slowly between rooms — there is often no need to hurry

Recommend to your elder that they contact you for assistance before attempting to do a cleaning or repair task on their own.

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