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Safe Proofing a Home for Seniors – A Caregivers Guide!

Many Seniors today are staying at their homes longer with the help of caregivers, or they are moving into their Children’s homes!

If you’re a caregiver and are preparing your home or your Parents home for a Parent to live safely, then you’ll need some advice on what essential safe proofing steps you may need to take to make sure they are safe from serious injury. You can talk with your doctor and a mobility specialist at any local Home Health Supply store; they will be able to guide you in the right direction regarding specific equipment needs and installations. We have a store in store called Sunshine Home Health at various locations and staff would be more than happy to assist you with your questions or needs.

Start with Decluttering & Clearing Paths

Many of us leave our possessions around the living room, hallways, staircases and bedrooms and think nothing of it. Unfortunately, a senior can trip and fall or misuse these items very easily. It can be much more severe for a senior to experience an accident. Start by clearing and decluttering the home so that your Parent has a safe pathway to walk or use their wheelchair or walkers and not bump into dangerous items lying around. You may wish to place locks or gates on rooms that may be unsafe, for instance, the basement,  stairwells, garage, balconies etc.. Many families rent storage lockers to place extra items that are currently cluttering the home or place them in garage sales or send them for donation.

Remove Sharp Edges

While your Parent may want to keep that beautiful night table, if it has sharp edges on it, or the drawers fall out easily, it can be a safety hazard. You can simply clear out hazardous furniture, or you can put on plastic or rubberized guards. You may consider removing glass tables and replacing them with safer furniture. Glass can be really heavy and very dangerous.

Bathroom Safety

Use carpeting where possible in bathrooms to reduce slippery floor surfaces as much as possible. Don’t leave items like hair dryers or shavers laying on the countertops. Install grab bars for toilets and bathing areas as well as a shower chair. Use a bath mat or tub stickers to reduce slip and falls. You can also get a faucet cover for additional protection. Reduce the water heater’s overall temperature to make sure your Parent will not be burned.

Kitchen Areas

If your Parent is able to prepare themselves a meal, make sure they are able to reach items easily. You may want to consider lowering the microwave as well to a manageable height on a counter. If water taps are out of reach, you could get a water dispenser or look at refrigerators that have water and ice on the doors. Make sure you don’t have a gas stove or sharp knives lying around as they could be dangerous.

General Support

A senior who is having difficulty walking may need to occasionally hold onto the walls or furniture. This is the time to consider if they should have a cane, walker, or wheelchair chairlift. But it’s also vital that furniture is secure if they are holding onto it for support. If there is a shelving unit in their bedroom, you don’t want them to grab onto it, only to have it fall on them. Shelves and bookcases can be attached to walls easily. Your local home health store or hardware can sell you special brackets. Make sure there are railings attached to the walls of stairwells. Some homeowners place a railing on both sides for maximum support. A chair lift may also be a good idea to help them get up or down the stairs.

A Way to Contact Family or Help

Medical alert devices are helpful for quick emergency situations when no one is around. Also, make sure your Parent has a list of phone numbers and an easy-to-access telephone that can be charged easily if it’s cordless. A bell is also handy to alert someone in another room that assistance is needed.

Ensure They Have Comfortable Private Space In Your Home

Your Parent should have a room that they can call their own. This can be a place for them to retreat to and relax. There should also be a closing door for privacy, but no lock is recommended. As a caregiver, you’ll need to have quick access to their room for countless reasons and safety in general.

It may seem daunting having to change your home to suit your Parent’s needs, but remember all the sacrifices they made to bring you up when you were a kid. The time, effort, and expense will be well worth it when you get to spend a lot more quality time with your loved ones.