Almost everyone loves to be home. Home is familiar and comfortable. It’s a special place filled with memories that make up who we are. Home is where we have loved, lost, laughed, fought, and perhaps even grieved. Living on our own gives us a sense of independence and privacy. So it’s no wonder that even as we age, our goal is to stay in our homes for as long as possible.
That being said, all of us will have to face that at some point, some tasks will not be as easy for us to accomplish as they once were. However, there are a number of home safety tips you can put into practice to make living at home safer for aging adults. Allowing them to remain in the home they have loved for so many years.
Why is geriatric home safety important?
Being proactive when it comes to home safety for seniors is essential to their wellbeing. Tens of millions of people each year are afflicted by preventable at-home injuries. And the risk of experiencing one only goes up as people grow older. Creating a safe environment for your senior loved one will give both of you peace of mind while enhancing their quality of life. There are certain areas that are most crucial when you address home safety. As well as a plethora of technological tools that can help the family monitor the situation and even call for help if needed.
How do I protect my senior loved one at home?
Aging in place is quite doable for many older adults. As long as precautions are taken to avoid the most common dangers. Small changes make a big difference.
According to the CDC, falls are the number one cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in those 65 years of age or older. The older we get, the more fragile our skin and bones become, making us much more susceptible to nasty cuts and broken bones. It also takes us much longer to heal from a fall if we do get injured.
One of the easiest things to do is go through the house and remove any trip hazards such as area rugs and electric cords you find. Electrical cords can be tucked away under furniture, and if possible remove throw rugs from the floor altogether as they tend to bunch up and pose a risk. If there are pets in the house, ensure their toys are picked up and stored away.
Falls are especially likely in the bathroom. So install grab bars they can use to make getting in and out of the tub or shower easier. You can also add non-slip or non-skid strips on the shower or tub floor to reduce the chance of falling, and provide a shower stool to make it easier for seniors to bathe themselves. The bathroom isn’t the only place grab bars are useful. You can install them in entryways and near thresholds to help seniors move from room to room more safely. Putting these simple fall-prevention measures into place will make living independently much easier and safer.
Security and Maintenance Help
Keeping up with regular maintenance is another important part of home safety. Seniors may not be capable of remembering or completing the routine maintenance required to keep things safe and secure. It may help you to create a checklist of items to review on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
For example, carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms should be inspected at least once a month to ensure sure they are working properly. Check that every room in the house has adequate lighting and that all bulbs are in good working order. Check grab bars, towel racks, and other mounted items to makes sure things are secure. Inspect the clothes dryer for signs of lint buildup, and give appliances a once-over to make sure cords are not frayed or damaged. Each time you visit, watch out for any buildup of trash and visit the bathroom to make sure the toilets are clean and functioning properly. Making sure these things are done properly and on a regular basis will keep your senior living in a safe and secure home.
Other Miscellaneous Home Safety Tips for Seniors
There are a few other home safety tips that can help seniors stay safe inside their homes. Turn the hot water heater down to 120 degrees to prevent burns. Place a bench near the front door so they have a safe place to put on and take off their shoes. You can install bed rails if your loved one is in danger of falling out of bed during the night. Replacing doorknobs with lever handles makes it easier for seniors with arthritis to open and close doors. In the kitchen, move frequently used items to a place where they are easily accessible.
Post emergency numbers near all phones, including 911, poison control, important doctors, and the names of nearby family members they can call who are available to come help whenever necessary. Anything you can do to help keep things easily accessible may make a difference.
Use Technology to your advantage.
There are technologies out there that can have a huge impact on the care of someone who is aging in place. Medical alert devices have been around a long time and will bring emergency help with the push of a button. Often you can even add fall detection to these services. Voice-activated smart devices can help seniors set reminders, timers, and even make emergency calls for you. They also provide entertainment such as music and audiobooks. Invest in a cell phone and teach your senior how to use it to call you in case of an emergency.
Change light switches to a smart sensor that will automatically turn lights on and off when you enter or leave a room. These are especially great for when you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. There’s no doubt that these devices allow aging adults to stay in their homes much longer than they could even 25 years ago.
Home safety for seniors with dementia.
Senior care for those with dementia can be a little more complicated. But it’s still doable. Once a senior starts showing signs of dementia, they should be supervised at all times. But there are tips that can help you take care of your loved one at home. In the kitchen, keep knives and cleaning supplies locked up and put finger guards on the garbage disposal if you have one. Choose appliances with automatic shutoff features so that stoves and ovens aren’t left on accidentally.
Install a home security system so that an alarm sounds if your senior tries to leave the home. You also may consider removing door locks inside the home to keep loved ones from locking themselves inside. If your senior tends to wander, there are even GPS tracking devices you can have them wear so you can find them if they lose their way. Senior care for a loved one with dementia is never easy, but you can definitely ease the situation by taking action to prevent dangerous situations.
It’s important to know that as adults age, they often don’t realize it when things become unsafe. After all, they’ve been living alone their whole lives, they know how to take care of themselves! Communicate with your aging loved ones and reiterate that you are available to help. Enlist family members to give the home a once-over during visits and remove anything that poses a safety threat. Provide the information seniors need at their fingertips so they don’t have to go searching for things in an emergency. Use the technology that’s available, and chances are your seniors can enjoy their independence for many years to come.
When home safety for seniors is no longer enough, there are plenty of options for senior living that can accommodate your loved one’s needs. We provide disability services, senior housing, skilled nursing, therapy, home health, and hospice care. We also offer a wide range of market rate & income-restricted rental housing communities. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We provide services throughout Minnesota and have additional properties in Maryland, Arizona, and Wisconsin.