Keeping aging parents safe at home could encompass many different topics such as physically safe, emotionally safe and financially safe. Unfortunately, it seems the elderly are most vulnerable to email and phone scammers and we can’t tell you how much that ruffles our feathers when we hear about things like that. But for this post, we are going to cover things you can do to keep aging parents physically safe at home.
Depending on the level of care your parents require, and if they live alone, some of these may apply and some may not. Some of these may seem silly and so obvious, but hopefully there will be something here you may not have thought of.
Falling is the #1 reason seniors suffer injuries and setbacks in health. So anything you can do around the house to decrease the likelihood of a fall is priority one.
• Good lighting in high-risk areas (add night lights in hallways)
• Remove/fix potential trip hazards inside and out (cords, thick or slippery rugs, threshholds, clutter, etc.)
• Hand rails on both sides of any stairways
• Add non-slip surfaces in bathroom and shower (And grab bars)
• If there is a tub, add a transfer bench that straddles both the inside and outside of the tub (This is incredibly helpful to avoid falls in the bathroom.)
• Install motion detector lighting anywhere near stairs
• Check for lose railing and towel racks
• Encourage the use of a fall alert necklace, especially if your loved one lives alone.
Post Important Numbers
Put important numbers by every phone—perhaps even adhered to the handset (or smartphone) in case they keep that with them. Numbers should include emergency contacts like family members, a neighbor and even 911.
There are many things we do to keep our families safe that sometimes seniors may forget to keep up with or not have the physical ability to take care of. However, they are important items on the checklist in order to maintain a safe home environment. These include:
• Replace burnt out light bulbs
• Be sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working
• Replace expired fire extinguishers
• Install automatic shut-off controls for ovens and stovetops
• Check lint traps and air filters
• Make sure water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees.
Home modifications that could help
There are a variety of ways a home can be altered to ensure safety for older loved ones. These might include:
• Installing a walk-in shower instead of a tub they have to climb in and out of
• Putting more commonly used dishes and pans at a height they can reach easily
• Switching doorknobs to the lever variety can be easier to open
• Raising the toilet a few inches
It’s not only important to check in on elderly loved ones but to do a check on the home as well. If you tend to just come in and visit in the living room or kitchen, be sure to check around the entire house occasionally to ensure you’re helping to keep you aging parents safe at home. Keep in mind, these are simply the basics. If you are managing a loved one with dementia, there are many other considerations that we will address in a future post.