- Six ways to make your home safe for aging parents
- Final Takeaways and a Checklist
Preparing to make your home safe for aging parents can be a daunting task. On one hand, it is a fantastic opportunity to have them with you as you get to spend quality time together and also look after them. On the other hand, it can pose a challenge.
There are many decisions to make, and it can feel like you’re just not sure where to start. The good news is, when you have a plan in place, it is easier to make your home safe for elderly parents and ensure that they are all right.
Even if your aging loved one prefers to stay in their own homes as they get older, you still have to worry about their safety so that they can comfortably get around their space and perform their daily routine.
Falls, burns, and poisonings cause the most accidents among the elderly.
As if that is not enough, when they live alone, there’s also the possibility that they may fall victim to criminals who target older people.
Since most falls occur around the home, let us focus on paying special attention to the steps and stairs, bathroom, and bedroom.
You can implement the following changes to make your home safe for aging parents while helping them live independently.
Six ways to make your home safe for aging parents
1. Begin by Modifying the Bathroom for Safety
The bathroom is a room that is often neglected when it comes to safety. First of all, ensure that there are no sharp corners. Remove any clutter from the room, so that it is easy to see where you are going and avoid stepping on anything that may cause a fall.
Here are some low-cost ways you can implement yourself to make your home safe for elderly parents.
- Add textured, no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower.
- Place a waterproof seat or chair in the shower.
- Replace standard doorknobs with lever handles.
- Replace the toilet with a raised toilet.
- Use rubber-backed bathmats.
- Alter the shower to allow walking in rather than needing to step over an entry.
- Fix grab bars near the toilets and in your bathtub or shower.
2. Install Handrails and Railings Throughout the Home
One of the most important things you can do to make your home safe for aging parents is to install railings and handrails throughout to support them in moving around. They may not always add to the décor, but they certainly reduce the chances of falls. Take a look around your home, identify areas where your loved one needs support and install handrails.
3. Protect Against Slips and Falls
The bathroom and kitchen tend to be the two areas where everyone, including elders, falls the most. Regardless of whether or not you opt-in for a live in carer, you’re still going to need to think about adding anti-slip mats to help protect your aging loved one.
4. The Kitchen
Of course, your aging loved one wants to make something special for you. Make it easier for them by ensuring their safety in the heart of your home. Besides adequate lighting, here are some suggestions to make their time in the kitchen a pleasant one:
- Invest in automatic shutoffs for small appliances.
- Have lever handles for faucets.
- Make it easy to move around the kitchen with clear pathways.
- Keep pots, pans, and other kitchen supplies within reach so that your loved one does not have to lift heavy items or carry them across the room.
- Store often-used items towards the front of the fridge.
- If you use Reacher devices, do not use them to lift breakable or heavy things.
- Opt for knob turners for your stove, preferably in the front of the appliance.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should clean up any spills promptly.
5. Create a Safe Bedroom Environment
The bedroom should be more relaxing and peaceful than any other part of the home. While you should ensure that your aging loved ones can rest comfortably, you also need to make it safe for them to do so. What can be done to ensure that the bedroom environment feels secure, safe, and welcoming?
Here are some suggestions.
- Get an adjustable bed meant for the elderly.
- Install bed railing.
- Replace furniture that has sharp corners or causes the risk of stubbing toes.
- Ensure that the lighting is bright enough to make your home safe for aging parents.
If possible, go the extra mile and make your home more accessible for elders who need to use a wheelchair. This can be done by:
- Making your entryways zero threshold, without barriers or curbs.
- Making light switches easily accessible from the wheelchair or bed
- Widening doorways and hallways
6. What if you have pets at home?
There is no doubt that pets increase our well-being. However, it is also important to make your home safe for aging parents to move around.
If you have pets, create a secure area for the pet so that your elders can move around without tripping over and falling.
Final Takeaways and a Checklist
To make your home safe for aging parents, here’s a quick checklist to prevent falls.
- Avoid area rugs that are loose on the floor. Make sure that carpets, if any, are firmly fixed to the floor.
- Replace your door and faucet handles with more comfortable lever handles that provide a good grip.
- If there are tiled floors and wood surfaces that are likely to get wet, place no-slip or non-skid mats to reduce the danger of falling.
- If there are stairs, place light switches both at the top and bottom of the stairs and don’t forget to turn on night lights.
- At the front door, install a ramp with handrails.
- Make sure there is adequate lighting both during the day and at night, especially in the stairways.
- Fix handrails along the stairs on both sides.
- Besides the bathroom, also fix grab bars in other rooms as required.
- Replace all mats in the house with non-slip mats, especially in the bathtub/shower. Ensure that they are secure and won’t slide.
- Clear your indoor pathways of tripping hazards such as loose wires, extension cords, phone chargers, etc.
- Remove throw rugs and mats.
- Make sure that any spills are wiped/cleared up right away.
- Ensure flooring level is even to avoid tripping.
- Repair any loose carpets or damaged flooring.
- Arrange furniture in such a way that there is a clear pathway.
- Apply nonslip wax on floors.
- Put nonskid treads on steps.
- Remove wheels on chairs.
Take your elderly loved one around the house to identify any risks for falling that can be fixed. Also, do sit down and talk to them about how to practice safety.