As we get older, daily tasks that were once done without any thought can become troublesome and even dangerous. The risk of tripping or taking a fall increases with age and decline related to health issues. As mobility decreases, dangers in the home seem to rise.
What can a caregiver do to help his or her elder loved ones age in place? There are many options available and they range from in-home care, asking friends, family or neighbors for help, taking on the role of full-time caregiver for your loved ones. There are other ways, though that you can help and that comes in the form of elder-proofing the home as a way to make it safer for them.
Here are some options to consider when elder-proofing your loved ones home.
- Upgrade and update the bathroom to make it more senior-friendly. Add non-slip shower mats because many in-home accidents occur in the bathroom.
- Add safety grab bars next to the toilet and shower to provide extra stability and increase safety.
- Make certain there is a non-slip bath mat next to the bathtub or shower as well as in the shower. A slippery tub or shower floor is very dangerous especially as we age.
- A shower chair will also help assure stability when bathing and showering and can make it much easier for those who find bending to be problematic.
- Give the house a walk-through and make certain there are no trip or fall hazards. Check for obstacles in the hallways to and from the rooms in the house. Look for rugs, extension or other cords, stacks of magazines or books and other items that we take from granted but could become a hazard.
- Move objects in kitchen cabinets to lower shelves so no one has to reach or climb to get them. For many older adults, bending to get things from low shelves or reaching for top shelves just isn’t an option any longer.
- Invest in an “extended grabber”. These tools help anyone reach objects on high shelves, items that have fallen behind furniture or even an item dropped at their feet.
- A medical alert system. These devices can be literal lifesavers. In the event of a medical emergency or a trip or fall accident, your loved one will only have to push a button to gain access to emergency care.
- Install lighting that is motion activated. This helps not only brighten a path to and from rooms, but assures the lights will turn off by themselves.
- If your loved ones are tech savvy, invest in a computer and stay in touch with them through video applications or video telephone calls – this is especially helpful if you live far away.
Your loved one may not like the fact that you’re safety proofing their home so be gentle and considerate with the suggestions you make. Spend time with your loved one to uncover their plans as they age and work with them to help make it a reality.