Making the decision to move an aging parent into your home and becoming a full-time caregiver is life-changing and can cause a great deal of stress for all involved. You will likely have to assist your parent with selling their home and letting go of belongings that hold emotional value. In addition, it may be necessary to make changes to your own home to accommodate their needs. Taking steps toward making your house more manageable and “senior-friendly” will reduce your loved one’s risk of falls or injury.
Below are five ways in which any caregiver can make their home safer for an aging parent:
– Install Nightlights: By age 70, eye transmittance declines to 25% and senior citizens need more light to see than you might expect. Install nightlights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to make nighttime trips to the bathroom or kitchen easier to navigate.
– Keep Stairs Safe: Check that all treads are free from loose boards and nails and make any necessary repairs. Make sure that all staircases in and around your home have a handrail that is firmly attached and runs the entire length of the staircase. Consider adding non-slip stair tape to outdoor treads that may become slippery when wet. As an added safety measure, choose non-slip stair tape with a reflective strip.
– Safeguard the Bathroom: The bathroom is a precarious place for the elderly, especially those that have compromised balance or limited mobility. Begin by installing grab bars and tub treads in the shower and placing a non-slip mat on the bathroom floor. Consider placing a safety frame around the toilet and putting in a raised toilet seat.
– Remove Tripping Hazards: According to the CDC, 25% of U.S. residents over the age of 65 report falling every year. Remove area rugs and secure stray electrical cords under and behind furniture. Rearrange furniture to widen pathways for walking and remove unnecessary items such as floor plants.
– Create an Escape Plan: Create and review your escape plan with your loved one. Your plan should include two exit routes and a meeting place. Designate one person, as well as a backup, to assist your parent in getting out of the home in case of an emergency. Install interconnected fire alarms in every bedroom, ensure that windows can be easily opened, and remove interior door locks.
It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed! Consider your loved one’s abilities and limitations, then walk through your home and take note of potential hazards that need to be addressed. Start with those tasks that are easiest to accomplish and work your way up from there.