Taking care of an aging loved one needs stepping into their shoes and looking at the world through their eyes. To some extent, making a home safer for an elderly person is similar to child-proofing a house.
Since most parents or grandparents prefer to live in their own homes than a senior home, it’s important to learn their needs and prepare their physical space accordingly. A regular house can still prove hazardous for the aging population who are now increasingly growing vulnerable to deafness, decreased mobility, diminished eyesight, etc. Therefore, if there’s aging in place, you’ll have to resort to multiple safety measures within the different rooms of your house.
• Make sure the house is adequately lit. Have light switches in as many places possible.
• Ensure the light switches are installed near the door, making it easier for elders to switch on the lights as soon as they enter the room.
• Add bright lights in corners and dark halls, in the foyer, and on stairways.
• Have night lamps installed in bathrooms, hallways, and bedrooms. Place flashlights close to your parent’s favorite chair, bed or other convenient places. Buy a lamp that’s easy to switch off and on.
• Ensure the house is clean and free from all that clutters. It’s preferred to not have low furniture such as footstools and coffee tables that could be a potential tripping hazard.
• Make sure the floor has good grip. If there are patches of slipperiness, cover those specific spots with rubber flooring. If a new flooring is out of budget, apply some non-skid wax on the area.
• Get rid of carpets and small rugs as elders are likely to trip over or slip on them.
• See to it if there is no furniture lying low in pathways or corridors. Also, discard any electrical cables or cords lying across pathways. If needed, you may tack or paste those cables to walls. Similarly, get rid of the cords from the busy spots in the house.
• Any stairway in or outside the house (within compound) must have dual railings.
• Install ramps in place of steps. Have them placed above doorsills or get rid of the sills completely for wheelchair accessibility.
• Have handrails installed on both the sides of hallways or stairs.
• Install grab bars in the bathroom area, near the toilet and the shower. Also place a suctioned rubber mat with reliable anti-slip traits.
• Have bathroom stools or chairs and ensure all bath items are in easy reach. The tub must be skid-proof too.
• Mark hot and cold faucets clearly. The door locks must be easy to operate and must open from both sides.
• Stock the kitchen with ready-made or easy-to-open food items that can be easily reheated. The food in the house must be rotated regularly to ensure expired food is trashed promptly.
• The utensils, microwave oven, etc. must be within easy reach.
• Ensure sharp objects, such as knives, are not within reach of seniors. When not in use, the knives must be racked.
• The heavier items must be stored at waist level. Get rid of glasses and heavy dishes and replace them with non-breakable, lightweight dishware.
• The hazardous items must be separated from food.
• Review their medicine requirements; restock supplies on time and take them to the doctor whenever an appointment is up.
• The medicines must be clearly labeled. Get rid of any used or old medicines.
• Have their medicines dispensed in a convenient dispenser or a bubble pack.
Alarms & Miscellaneous
• Make sure warning alarms work fine. Check smoke alarms and add in new batteries if needed.
• Similarly, a fire extinguisher must be easily accessible too. Also have a buddy system or medical alert in place.
• If your elders use walking support, attach rubber tips to the equipment’s points of contact to prevent any possibilities of skidding or slipping.
Ultimately, your goal should be to let the seniors be on their own and independent. Putting up a safer living environment and keeping a close watch at their activities from a distance is the way you do it. But if you really care about your parents or elders’ well-being, it’s recommended you stay with them. Your physical presence won’t just offer them moral and emotional support, but you’ll be able to help whenever needed – for instance, wiping up spills, or helping them rise from a sitting or sleeping position.