I have spoken about home safety in the past, but I’d like to bring up a couple of specific things today.
Today more and more seniors choose to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. There are many good reasons for this, first it can be less expensive than moving into retirement or nursing facilities. Second, when they are in a familiar environment they are able to feel more comfortable and are less likely to become depressed.
The most important thing to remember when making the decision to age in place is whether the home is physically safe to be in. I’m not referring to structural issues, although that is also a consideration. I’m talking about fall risks.
Any items piled around on the floors can cause an elderly person to potentially trip and fall. Even if they’ve always had that pile of stuff there as we age our depth perception and balance start to fade. So the pile they’ve always stepped over will one day trip them up.
Making sure that all walk ways are free and clear of all debris and clutter is one step to making the home safer.
Another important potential trip hazard to clear away are throw rugs or area rugs. Your elderly loved one may not be able to lift their feet properly when walking and get tripped up by the rug.
If there are tears or rips in carpeting or if the transition area between tile or laminate and carpeting isn’t secured down, these need to be repaired or the whole carpet replaced. Once again, these are tripping points.
A large number of falls in the home happen in the bathroom. Look into installing grab bars near the toilet and in the shower. These should be properly mounted in order to safely take the weight of your loved one.
Transfer poles are also helpful. These floor to ceiling poles offer support for standing. They are helpful next to the bed and/or next to a favorite chair.
Electric lift chairs are very handy in getting a senior citizen to the point of standing. They also recline via the electric motor. There are many different styles both on the decor side of things and how many bells and whistles come with it, many even include heat and massage.
If there are any steps or stairs in the house it is important to make sure there are secure handrails to use. At no point in time should anything be left on a step, they should always be clear of any clutter.
If climbing a flight of stairs is physically too taxing it may become necessary to convert a room on the main level into a bedroom or invest in one of the stair chair lifts.
In the kitchen, make sure that plates, cups, bowls and other such eating implements are within easy reach. As we age we loose muscle tone and reaching above our head becomes more difficult. At the same time our knees and circulatory system won’t accept bending over for more than at most a few moments.
Once everything is as safe as possible in the physical home, it may be helpful to hire a service to come to provide companionship, housekeeping help, meal preparation and assistance running errands. Depending on the level of independence of your loved one this may only need to be once or twice a week for a couple of hours. By starting this kind of light assistance early it may help them accept more help if they need additional help with activities of daily living (aka: ADL’s) in the future.
Another good investment of money is for a emergency call button service. This way if your love one is alone in their home they will have a reliable method to reach out for assistance, especially if they’re unable to reach a phone.