There are many things that we can do to improve the safety for ourselves and for our loved ones.
As we walk through the home there are many things to consider.
In general, fall hazards can happen in any room. Start with eliminating various trip/fall hazards such as clutter in all sizes, stacks of items on the floor, throw rugs, extension cords in walkways, etc. Even some pets can be a problem as we age, especially if someone is to trip over them… or, if the animal has not been trained to not jump up on people.
Next, in the kitchen, consider moving items of daily use to lower more easily accessible shelves or even the counter. Heavy pots and pans should be replaced with lighter/smaller ones. Gas stove tops often pose many safety issues for the elderly. Please also assess carefully that other nearby items or loose-fitting clothing will not be a fire issue. A good fire extinguisher is important to have here (as well as in a back bedroom.) The refrigerator is one place the family often neglects to inspect. Check expiration dates and be aware of any odors. As we age good lighting is very important and must be sufficient here and in every room of the home.
The garage again needs good light, clear walk ways, and hand rails on all steps.
Bedroom safety includes a clear path to bathroom and good lighting. No slip rugs. There are many adaptations available to the bed for side rails, pillows for elevation, comfort and skin care. Night lights are helpful here. And, don’t forget to check the batteries in smoke alarms monthly and replace those batteries at least yearly.
In the bathroom there are fortunately many adaptive equipment pieces one can and probably should add to their shower/tub, toilet, hand rails, and light fixtures.
Timers on lights can also be very helpful in the living room. Proper locks on doors and windows also should be checked.
Many of these items can be added or repaired with minimal cost and time. However, any investment here will be returned many times over in the safety of our loved ones. So, give their complete surroundings a close inspection, and every year, do it again… to continually compensate for any additional changes that need to be made.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by: Paula McCormick MSW LSW Licensed Geriatric Social Worker with Columbine Caregivers and Elder Quest Care Management Services. She may be reached at 970-985-5950 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.