As we age, we are less sure on our feet. Slips and falls account for the majority of serious injuries among our elderly population. For many people, bringing an aging parent into their home is an option that is preferred over nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Unfortunately, few people take the time to make their homes safer for seniors. When we know a baby is coming, we do everything we can to “baby-proof” the home and make it safe. When an elderly parent is moving in, most of us make very few changes, seeing our parents as the able-bodied adult we grew up with.
If you are considering bringing an elderly parent or loved one into your home to live, there are simple changes that you can make that will ensure your home is as safe as it can be. Use the following tips to make adjustments and modifications to your home before your parent moves in.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three seniors falls each year. This includes falls in the home, outdoors and in businesses. To reduce the chances of someone falling in your home, increase the amount of lighting you have installed. Night lights in hallways, bathrooms and stairwells can go a long way in making a path easier to see.
If you have bedside tables, look for lamps that turn on and off by touch. If you prefer, you can install a “clapper” and plug the lamps into it. This can make turning on the lighting easier for seniors with arthritis.
Take a look under your feet and consider that hundreds of thousands of seniors are seen in emergency rooms each year after slipping on floors, landings and stairs. Linoleum and other smooth floors make it difficult for the elderly to walk with stability.
If you don’t want to install carpet throughout your home, place area rugs over slippery floors. Make sure the rugs are taped down properly so they don’t slip themselves. Tape electrical cords down or tuck them out of the way, and make sure there are no obstacles that your loved one could trip and fall over.
3. Fire Hazards
Many a fire is started when an elderly person forgets that they put something on the stove. You can purchase Safe T Element cookware that only heats up to a certain temperature. You can also purchase stoves and ovens that turn off automatically. If you need to, remove the knobs from a gas stove and tell your loved one that the microwave is their only alternative.
4. Medical Response
Everyone of a certain age has laughed at the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up,” commercials. Silly commercials aside, medical response units are incredibly helpful. Models today come with GPS systems and fall-detection technology. Keep in mind that many elderly people are a bit embarrassed to be asked to wear this type of device. If you discuss this option with your parent, put the reasons on your shoulders. Tell your parent it is for your peace of mind more than their safety.
5. The Bathroom
The bathroom can be especially dangerous for the elderly. The good news is that it is very easy to sort out. Install a handrail next to the toilet and in the shower. If you have the money to make a larger change, consider a tub surround that has a door built in. These type of tubs allow your loved one to walk in and out of the tub instead of having to step up and over. Traction stickers placed on the bottom of the tub are also a great, cheap way to provide safety.
6. Assistive Technologies
If your parent has special needs, consider purchasing assistive technologies to make their life easier. There are phone that have flashers and louder rings. There are flashers that can be linked up to the doorbell. Talking devices like watches can make it easier for a person with trouble seeing clearly. Speak to your parent’s doctor about any technologies that may be useful.
Having a parent move into your home is a big decision and, at time, an even bigger job. Make your home as safe as possible for your parent. You don’t have to break the bank to make small changes in your home. From personal safety devices to area rugs over the floors, there are a variety of things you can do to help ensure the safety of your elderly loved one.
If your loved one has suffered a personal injury in West Palm Beach or the surrounding area, call our office. Our team of personal injury attorneys is here for you and your family. We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation and advise you of your options. Call now and find out how we can assist you and your family.