December 13, 2018
Are you concerned with the safety of an older parent or loved one in their current home? As we grow older, our health and safety concerns tend to increase. Everyday slips and falls can be highly dangerous for older adults, and most homes are ill-equipped to accommodate seniors’ changing needs for safety and mobility.
If you are worried about a loved one living alone, the following tips can help you improve the safety and security of their home environment:
Keep stairs and hallways safe
Stairways and hallways can become hazardous areas of the home for older adults, especially for seniors with limited mobility. Make sure that all stairways have sturdy handrails on both sides and consider installing handrails in hallways. Thick carpet or loose area rugs in stairways and hallways may also increase the risk of trips and falls. Consider installing low-pile carpet and avoid using loose area rugs or carpet runners.
Make bathrooms more accessible
The National Institute on Aging estimates that 80 percent of senior falls occur in the bathroom. Luckily, there are several modifications you can add to make your loved one’s bathroom more secure. You can install grab bars to the shower walls, bathtubs, and both sides of the toilet to help your loved one maintain their balance when maneuvering around the bathroom. Adding skid-proof textured adhesive grips to the inside of the bathtub or shower and using non-slip rubber mats will also help to prevent falls in the most slippery areas of the bathroom.
Improve lighting around the home
Without adequate lighting around their home, older adults may have trouble spotting and avoiding trip hazards. Make it safer and more convenient for your older loved one to maneuver around their home by installing motion-sensing lights or remote-controllable light switches. Placing night lights in common areas, hallways, and bathrooms may also help seniors safely move around in the dark.
Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms save lives, but it can be difficult for older adults to install and maintain these devices on their own. Make sure your older loved one’s home is equipped with smoke detectors in all bedrooms and common areas, and install at least one carbon monoxide alarm on every level of the home. If your loved one is hard of hearing, consider installing smoke detectors that use flashing lights or vibration in addition to sound. Once a month, test the alarms and replace the equipment as needed.
Don’t forget about outdoor areas
Senior falls commonly occur outside of the home. Ensure your loved one’s driveway, sidewalk, and entryway are free of hazards such as uneven surfaces, short “hidden” curbs, or loose gravel. Any cracks or damage to the pavement should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent falls.
Using these tips can help your senior loved one live independently for longer, but there inevitably comes a time when “aging in place” is no longer safe. One of the great benefits of today’s retirement communities is the enhanced safety and security features designed specifically for older adults.
In a retirement community, older adults enjoy an independent lifestyle without the chores and safety risks associated with traditional home environments. In many cases, seniors find that moving to a retirement community is a far safer and more comfortable alternative to living alone at home.