Home is where the heart is. People become very attached to their homes, and for good reason: there are many special memories made there, it is comfortable, safe, familiar, and meaningful.
That is why so many seniors are choosing to age in place; it allows them to retain their freedom, flexibility and independence in the comfort and familiar surroundings of their own home. In fact, 4 out of 5 seniors believe their current home is where they will always live. But as our loved ones age, getting around the home and performing many household tasks starts to become more and more difficult, raising the concern of whether it is safe for them to live at home.
We want our loved ones to remain in the homes they love, but we also worry about their safety. In fact, 75% of adult children think about their parent's ability to live independently as they get older. But it is possible for seniors to safely and independently age at home, it just requires some elderly home safety modifications to the house and to their routine. Take some time to go through your loved one's home, making note of any areas that cause safety concern, and then proactively make any modifications, creating a safe environment for your loved one to age happily.
The most important thing to look for in the bedroom is whether your loved one can get in and out of the bed safely and comfortably, and access his or her essentials from the bed. First ask yourself if your loved one can even get into and out of the bed on their own. If not, patient lifts and slings to get in and out of bed are great options, as well as grab bars or "ladders" to help them lower down into the bed, or sit up while in bed on their own. If their condition necessitates it, make sure there is room for a hospital bed in the room.
Once your loved one is safely into the bed, you want to make sure that they can access necessities from their bed to avoid having to get up and down often. Make sure there is a light switch that they can reach from bed (or try clap on lights), and have the telephone and any emergency alert systems set up next to the bed. Have a remote control next to the bed for any fans in the room, or to control the air/heat. Also place any walking aides near the bed so they can reach them immediately when they stand up.
The last thing to consider is proximity to a bathroom. If they have to get up to go in the middle of the night, be sure that there are night lights in both the bedroom and bathroom so they lower the risk of tripping and falling. If there is not a bathroom nearby, consider the possibility of a bedside commode.
The goal in the bathroom is to create barrier-free access to all of the necessary features - the toilet, sink, tub, etc. Transfer benches, safety frames for the toilet, grab bars for the shower, and safety steps for the bathtub are all appliances or add-ons that you can install in your loved one's bathroom for their safety and ease. Also be sure that there are good non-slip bath mats on the floors, and you could consider a heated towel rack with an automatic off function to make sure your loved one is warm and comfortable.
Be sure that there is a bathroom on every floor of the house to make it easier for your loved one to access, and to avoid the risk of falling while hurriedly going up or down the stairs to reach one. Also have a constant source of light
The kitchen can be a dangerous place as we age, so you should spend some time observing your loved one to make sure that they are able to operate everything properly and safely. There might come a time when you need to speak with them about kitchen safety, and might need to have a family or professional care provider come into their home to help with cooking, preparing meals, and cleaning the kitchen.
To make their kitchen experience easier and safer, you can check to make sure that all smoke detectors are working properly, and that the kitchen is arranged so your loved one can easily reach groceries, appliances and utensils that they use often. You can also purchase non-slip and anti-fatigue kitchen mats for the floor, and other useful items such as jar and bottle openers, jug-pourers, and food organizers to help make kitchen tasks easier for your loved one.
Stairs are the dreaded enemy to aging at home because of the ever-present risk of falling. So how can you be sure your loved one can safely move from one story to the next? The best options are installing an elevator in the home, or putting a stair lift on all of the staircases in the home. There are straight-rail stairlifts, and curve-rail stairlifts so that you can put one on any staircase, no matter the shape. But if lifts aren't necessary, be sure that there are handrails on both sides of the stairs, and that the top and bottom of the staircase is clearly marked. Also if the stairs are wooden, be sure to place a carpet runner down the length of the stairs to reduce the risk of slipping.
If there are stairs to the entrance of the house, you will want to consider a mobility ramp or platform lift for easy access. There are many different kind of ramps so you can find one to suit the needs of your loved one and their mobility as they age. For example, there are modular ramps, folding ramps, light ramps, and ramp rentals. Platform lifts are another option for getting up outdoor stairs, and they can be slightly less obtrusive than a ramp. You should also make sure that there is good lighting near any entrances or exits to the home that always stays on.
The living room might seem like safe haven, but there are a few modifications that you can make to reduce the risk of accidents, and create a more comfortable space for your aging loved ones. Clear the area of any throw rugs to reduce the risk of tripping and falling, and be sure any area rugs are securely fastened down. Also make sure the room is free of clutter and debris, and that electrical cords are out of the way.
Power Lift chairs are great addition to the living room, making it easy and body-friendly to get in and out of the comfy recliner. Clap on, or remote controlled lights and other appliances are also useful and can make life easier. Be sure to create a place in the room where all remotes and electronics are stored to avoid any confusion. You could get a nice bowl or tray, and designate it as the place to put remotes and other similar items.
Even with these elderly home safety modifications, there might come a time when you realize that your loved one(s) need assistance to age at home. At American In-Home Care, we always refer compassionate and qualified care providers that can help you and your loved ones feel safe and supported at home. The care providers we refer can help with a wide variety of services, making it easy to find someone that is the right fit for your specific care needs. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free, in-home consultation.