How to Create a Safe Home for Your Aged Parents
The Most Dangerous Place in the House
Have you guessed it? The MOST dangerous place in the house is not the kitchen, stairways or the living room. It is not the garage or bedroom but the bathroom! The reports from the National Institute of Aging show that nearly 80% of falls by older people occur in the bathroom.
A bathroom often has wet flooring and other surfaces and unsteady seniors are more prone to falling and injuring themselves. However, you can reduce the bathroom incident by installing a shower seat, handle, and non-slip mat or flooring.
It is not the bathroom alone! Lighting inside the house also takes credit for causing an elderly to fall. Inadequate and improper lighting will cause serious trouble especially if the elders have poor eyesight.
Let us not forget the KITCHEN! This place holds the utensils, glasses, knife etc. This can cause accident which is why it is necessary to put rug or non-slip matting on the floor to avoid fall and if there is a need to retrieve the items above, use chairs or stool to stand and gain access to it.
We will never know when the accident may occur which is why it is essential to take precautions so that you would not have to worry every second of every day about the future of a senior close to you.
Key Factors in Creating Safe Living Home Environment
One very important factor in ensuring successful elderly life at home is the application and maintenance of a functional, safe and healthy living environment. Home safety is a very important concern among-st the elderly.
Arthritis, dementia, poor eyesight, balance and hearing, not to mention the side effects of the consumption of medication are all factors that could make a short trip to the bathroom a potentially dangerous task. Since injuries on seniors are more profound due to their thin skin and brittle bones, caution should be used at all times, especially when an elderly is alone at home.
As mentioned, falls top the list of the common cause of serious injury to the aged. Fortunately, these accidents can be prevented by employing safety measures at home.
When making safety applications and modifications at home, there are four (4) key factors to keep in mind.
Some of the modifications for safety application can be accomplished easily, while others may require renovations to your home. It’s important when considering renovations to consult with experts who are certified aging-in-place specialists. These include re-modelers, contractors, designers, architects, and health-care specialists all trained to help senior citizens remain comfortably in their homes as they age.
1. Provide Support or Assistance
In the past, my family and I did not think that my grandparents’ home required any form of safety precautions as we always felt that it was ‘safe’ enough and that my elder grandparents would not fall or face any forms of mishap. My grandparents’ place has always been so clean, tidy and organized, that we never thought that a simple fall can greatly affect someone’s life.
Then, it hit us that they are not young anymore. They are not that strong enough to help themselves up when they fall. That is when we decided to seek help and ask for assistance. Now, grandpa has a safe home and there are assistive devices in his house that will support him even if we are not around.
Through technological advances, home modifications, caregiving services, and the involvement and engagement of family members, we were able to provide a safe home.
In order to help the seniors enjoy and make the most of aging in their own home, it is essential to provide the safety and convenience necessary for their specific needs and long-term care.
2. Minimize movement and increase convenience
When we refurbished grandpa’s home, we considered the changes required in creating a senior-friendly home. We ensured that every part of the house was convenient for him, especially the areas that would pose more danger, such as the bathroom and kitchen. You would want to do it right!
The most important and common update we did was to add non-slip flooring in the entryway inside the home and outside of the house. We also added non-slip strips to improve footing.
Thankfully, the house does not have any existing ramps or uneven flooring that will hinder his movement. However, as there are stairs from the ground floor leading to the second floor of the house, we installed rails for aging grips and ensured that the floor had non-slip strips so that he would not fall. Having stairs in good condition with appropriate dimensions and the right kind of handrails would make a big difference.
The house should be elder proof which means that to look at any possible way that the elder may get injured or fall down. Focus on areas in which the elder often visits, so you know which areas to focus your attention.
3. Keep surfaces or places with minimal friction
The most upgrade that was done was the flooring of grandpa’s house. Back then, the house had tiled flooring which was slippery.
We ensured that all of the flooring inside the house has slip-resistant- from the bathroom to the bedroom. We made sure that it was not only easy and comfortable to walk in but also easy to clean and maintain.
We avoided using ceramic or porcelain tiles and natural stone as it can be slippery when wet. We used carpets for parts in which we were unable to renovate and in other parts like the bathroom, we used sheet vinyl.
It might be expensive to renovate the surface of the house, but fret not as there are plenty of alternatives that you may choose to use to ensure that you minimize the friction in the surface of the house.
4. Provide proper, adequate lighting.
Proper and adequate lighting is very important in an elder’s home. Since grandpa has poor eyesight, we installed the necessary lighting. Lighting enhances the vision of elders in their surroundings.
Indoor lighting is significantly important in senior’s home. The eye needs to capture more light to see at the same level it used to with less light. In part, it is simply because seniors are at home most of the time.
In the dining room, we made sure that light is dispersed all around the room. We placed a lamp in the living room corner where he often sits to read his books.
Our best investment in terms of lighting was an assistive lighting switch device which grandpa can easily use and access as needed. There are group controls to help make multiple adjustments for the appropriate time of day and activities.
Always remember that it is important to put extra lighting to stairways, kitchen, bathroom, outdoor and bedroom. As deterioration of vision is gradual, it is a good idea to re-evaluate your lighting every few years as they age.
Falls can be very serious even for young people. For elderly, it can be critical or even deadly. Not just for their well-being, even should they be able to recover, they may not be able to function as well as before, and the medical bills can be hefty which is why it is important to adopt a mindset of keeping their home environment injury-free.