Keep Your Loved One Involved in the Process
One point you must never forget is that the home belongs to your elderly loved one. Every step of the way, he or she should be included in the process of making the necessary changes. Even if there is some limited capacity, consult the loved one on things that he or she can readily understand and grasp.
That includes selecting a cell phone service and loading it with apps that can be used during emergencies. It also means making sure your loved one in a wheelchair can work to ensure the locks on the front door are secured. Getting rid of area rugs for home safety purposes also calls for a discussion. Essentially anything that has to do with changes or the implementation of safety tips should be grounds for a consultation with your loved one.
Why is this important? Your loved one is going through a serious change. It’s already evident that control is slipping away. By including your loved one in the decision making process, you’re honoring the abilities that remain and providing respect. The result is that the changes will be easier to absorb and adjusting to this new way of living will be less traumatic.
A Home Safety Checklist For Your Elderly Loved One
While you’ve thought of a number of issues related to safety, it’s possible that there’s more to consider. One way to keep yourself on track and have a better idea of what type of support your loved one needs is to prepare an elderly home safety checklist. There are plenty of ways to organize such a list, but this example will get you started.
I. Enhancing Safety in the Living Room
a. Arrange furniture so navigating through the room is easy-to-reach
b. Get rid of accessories that would interfere with the use of crutches or walkers. This includes low tables, magazine racks that might catch the walker, or even large potted plants used for decoration.
c. Update light switches so they can be touched rather than flipped. Make sure they are near every point of entry.
d. Sound activated lamps are also helpful additions.
e. Remove all area rugs or at least secure them in place with slip resistant backing and double-faced tape.
f. Electrical cords are out of the way at all times.
g. Furnishings should include armrests and preferably high backs to aid in standing.
h. A smartphone or at least a cordless phone should be in the room and easy to access.
II. Safety in the Kitchen
a. No rugs at all.
b. Spills of any type are cleaned up ASAP
c. Essentials (food, dishes and cookware) are stored lower for easy reaching
d. A step stool with a hand rail is on hand for getting to items used less often that are stored in the upper cabinetry.
e. Flooring must be non-skid
f. Invest in a toaster oven or countertop convection oven so leaning over to use a conventional oven isn’t necessary.
III. Making the Bedroom Safer
a. Do away with clutter so moving around the room is easier.
b. A phone and a flashlight must be within easy reach from the bed.
c. Night lights should provide an easy path out of the bedroom to the bathroom.
d. An elevated mattress that makes it easier to get in and out of bed is essential.
IV. Checking the Bathroom
a. Make sure grab bars are installed near the toilet and near the shower or tub.
b. All rugs are slip resistant.
c. The soap dispenser is securely mounted on the shower wall at a reasonable height.
d. If a tub is present, equip it with a plastic shower chair.
e. An armrest mounted by the side of the toilet helps with keeping balance.
f. Install a longer mirror over the sink so it’s easier to use while in a sitting position.
V. Stairs if the Home Has More Than One Level
a. The stairs must be well-lit.
b. Make sure the treads are secure.
c. A handrail must run from the top to the bottom of the stairs
VI: Carpeting Throughout the House
a. Go with a shorter pile and solid colors rather than patterns and deeper piles
b. Add brightly colored safety tape if it’s hard to see where the carpet ends and another type of flooring begins.
c. The carpeting must be taut and secure at all times. If wrinkles develop, have them removed at once.
VII. Miscellaneous Safety Measures
a. Make sure all the smoke detectors work. There should be one in every room
b. You also want fully functional carbon monoxide detectors at all times.
c. Safety gates are essential for the basement stairs and other parts of the home.
d. Safety locks on some cabinetry may be necessary.