Keeping the Home Safe for Elderly Parents

Example of a bath safety rail

It is natural for seniors to want to live independently at home for as long as they are physically able. Home is where they feel secure. From a financial standpoint, it also may make good economic sense. Assisted living centers can be costly, so living at home may be a senior’s best option.

Although home is where seniors feel the safest, it actually contains many safety hazards that are potentially dangerous. Not only does the risk of falling increase as a person ages, but the chances of being injured from such accidents increases as well. Taking the necessary precautions to safeguard the home will help ensure that your loved one can enjoy the independence of living at home.

Making A Safer Home

Many simple changes can promote a healthier home. Changing furnace filters regularly can keep the air fresh and clean. Install quality furnace filters that block allergens, pet dander, and other airborne pollutants that may affect a senior’s health. On pleasant days open windows to circulate fresh air.

Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and check the batteries regularly. Make sure your elderly parent works out an escape plan in the event of fire or other emergency.

Consider the use of monitors or intercoms. Make sure the house is well lit, particularly in halls and stairways. For nighttime safety, install nightlights in hallways and bathrooms.

Arrange or remove excess furniture. Make sure furniture can be leaned on without tipping over. Cushion sharp edges of furniture, vanities and cabinets. Remove clutter from hallways and walkways. Secure loose floor rugs or remove them. Replace door knobs with levers that are easy to grasp.

Adjust the hot water heater temperature control to prevent the chance of scalding. Cover any exposed hot water pipes with pipe insulation. Put in a furnace thermostat with a large backlit display.

In The Bathroom

The majority of falls occur in the bathroom. Bathrooms are confined areas with a variety of slip hazards. Bath and shower safety is of particular concern to the health of your elderly parent. To prevent them from grabbing a towel rack for support, install grab bars in or near the bath tub and around the toilet. .

Consider placing a seat or bench inside the shower or tub for your loved one to sit on or use as support. Remove sliding doors on a bathtub and replace them with a curtain. This will provide the senior with more room to enter and exit the tub.

In The Kitchen

Ensure the appliances and utensils used frequently by your loved one are within easy reach. If necessary, change out the cabinet hardware with handles that are easy to grasp. Make sure to check the refrigerator regularly for outdated food. As we age, our senses of taste and smell diminish. Your loved one may not realize that food has spoiled.

As a footnote, even if a senior is living in a rental home, reasonable modifications to ensure their safety are allowed under the Fair Housing Amendments Act.

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