Millions of Americans aged 65+ are injured in home accidents every year, and most of those injuries occur in the bathroom, living room and kitchen. Falls, fractures and burns are common, and some seniors lose their independence as a result.
One way to create a safer living environment for your aging parents is to “senior-proof” their home. Using these safety tips should make the process go more seamlessly.
Why Are Seniors So Accident Prone?
Due to the gradual physical and mental changes brought on by aging, many seniors eventually have trouble safely performing activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, toileting and eating. But if your elderly parents are like most those limitations won’t stop them from trying.
The elderly tend to be more vulnerable to home accidents for reasons like:
- Cognitive impairment caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Poor balance, coordination and flexibility
- Slower reaction times
- Vision changes
- Bone density loss
- Diminished muscle strength
Finding effective ways to “senior-proof” and create a safer home environment will help your parents enjoy a higher quality of life as the aging process moves forward.
Safe Proofing Your Parents’ Home
Most seniors don’t embrace change well, and your parents are probably no exception. While talking it over first, sell the idea of safe proofing their home a little at a time. Once you have mom and dad’s approval slowly move forward by taking these steps:
Eliminate trip hazards
Electrical cords, bulky furniture and slippery area rugs are all walkway trip hazards. Eliminate those room-by-room while creating clutter-free pathways that are at least 34 inches wide. Also try to persuade your parents to remove furniture items with sharp corners or glass from frequently used living spaces.
Introduce more lighting
Be sure that all the hallways and stairways are well lit, any burned out light bulbs replaced, and new fixtures installed where needed. Introduce more illumination in frequently used nighttime pathways, for example from the bedroom to the bathroom, with plug-in night lights or battery powered lights.
Non-slip rugs and mats
One of the easiest things you can do is to replace rugs and mats that tend to bunch up with non-slip versions. Placing non-slip rugs and mats in the bathroom, kitchen and master bedroom will both help prevent and cushion falls.
Proper height beds
If your parents’ bed is too low or too high for them to safely get in and out of, find them a new bed that’s the proper height. For seniors who are prone to falling out of bed position the bed as low to the ground as possible. If your parent uses a wheelchair try to get the height of the bed even with the height of the wheelchair’s seat.
Sharp corners, confined spaces and wet floors make bathrooms dangerous places for seniors. Help prevent bathroom mishaps by installing grab bars next to the toilet and tub. Add a shower chair and raised toilet seat and apply nonskid tape strips inside the tub or shower. A hand-held shower nozzle is also a good idea for a senior with limited mobility.
Don’t forget the kitchen
To discourage your parents from climbing on stepstools arrange all the cookware and food items in their kitchen within arm’s length. Use bright nail polish to mark key controls on frequently used appliances and place an anti-scalding shutoff device on the water faucet.
Medical alert system
Setting up your parents with a medical alert system, or “personal emergency response system” (PERS), is a great way to keep them safer in the home while restoring your peace of mind.
An Extended Family in Your Love One’s Home
Protecting aging parents from home mishaps can be hard when you’re busy or live far away. When you need a hand contact New Wave Home Care. As a fully licensed home care provider our approach is all about compassion and connection, delivered with a personal touch that allows our clients to experience a degree of joy. While serving as an extended family in the home our highly trained professionals can deliver services including personal care, respite care, transitional care, specialized care, hospice support, transportation and more.
To learn more about New Wave Home Care now, or to set up a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in our Southern California and greater Los Angeles service area today, please visit us at: www.newwavehomecare.com!