One of the biggest concerns as your parents get older is ensuring their safety. They want to remain as independent as possible for as long as they can, but you worry about them managing around the house by themselves.
Fortunately, almost any home can be made safer and more senior-friendly with the right modifications.
Here are the top safety hazards in the home for the elderly and some tips for how you can help your parent avoid them.
Why are seniors more at risk for injuries?
It can be hard to accept that your parent who always seemed so independent and in control of everything when you were younger might need additional help now. There are some changes that come with the aging process that can put seniors at risk for injuries. These include:
Not every senior will experience these, but those that do may have trouble with activities that they used to complete with ease. This could include bathing, cleaning, or home maintenance.
Seniors may also be more likely to experience serious consequences if they do have a fall or injury.
Top safety hazards in the home for the elderly
Seniors might not realize that the home they have been living in for years may no longer be safe for them. They may be resistant to making improvements even though those changes might allow them to live independently for longer.
It can be a difficult discussion, but worthwhile to start slowly preparing your parent’s home before a fall or an injury takes place. Addressing these safety hazards will allow your senior parent to stay independent (with a little help) for longer in the home that they love.
With aging can come a decrease in balance and an increase in the risk of falls. Cluttered floors are a major tripping hazard for seniors. Some tips for preventing this include:
Make sure halls, stairways, and paths are well-lit and clear of objects.
Never place scatter rugs at the top or bottom of stairs.
Use non-skid backing or tape to prevent area rugs from moving or rolling when walked on (or remove them entirely).
Keep electrical cords, coffee tables, and ottomans away from walking areas.
If your parent has a pet, make sure that toys and feeding dishes are stored away from walking areas.
Fires are a potentially deadly hazard in any home, but seniors living alone are at special risk. Health issues can keep them from being able to adequately prevent or respond to a fire in their home.
Some fire safety tips for seniors include:
Help them to replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.
Have furnaces and chimneys inspected every year (check local senior programs for assistance).
Make sure that electric appliances are in working order and not crowding a socket or extension cord.
Your aging parent may also need assistance in revising their fire safety plan to reflect changing abilities. This could mean moving a bedroom to the first floor if they have mobility issues or getting a bed shaker connected to the smoke alarm if they have hearing loss.
If your parent is taking multiple medications for different health conditions, they may be at risk of confusing their prescriptions. Here are some tips for preventing medication mix-ups:
While some seniors like medication organizers, it’s actually typically safer to keep medications in their original containers so they don’t get mixed up.
If your parent does want assistance with organizing medications, ask the pharmacy if they offer labeled pill packs for each date and time.
Ask the pharmacist to use large-print labels on your parent’s medicines.
Keep medications in a well-lit area so they can see the labels.
Have your parent bring all pill bottles with them to doctor’s appointments so the provider can make sure that they’re all still needed and being taken correctly.
Keeping the house well-lit can help prevent many of the other hazards on this list. Assist your parent to replace any burnt-out light bulbs and consider installing new light fixtures in dimly lit areas of the home.
Make sure that light switches are easily accessible and use nightlights to reduce the risk of disorientation or falls during nighttime trips to the bathroom.
Bathrooms are one of the most common sites of injury in the home for seniors. Help your parent stay safe by:
Installing grab bars in the shower and near the toilet
Setting the thermostat on the water heater no higher than 120° F to prevent scalding
Putting rubber mats in the bathtub to prevent slipping
Getting a shower chair or raised toilet seat to make getting up easier
You might not realize it, but isolation is a safety hazard for seniors. It affects their physical health and mental health and can prevent loved ones from getting help sooner.
Many adult children find out during visits that their parent is no longer able to meet their basic needs. You may notice that your parent is neglecting bathing or cleaning due to physical limitations. Or your parent may be losing weight because they aren’t able to prepare healthy meals for themselves anymore.
You can help prevent isolation by visiting as regularly as possible, having a home caregiver for companionship, and utilizing a transportation service to help them get out of the house.
The medical equipment that your parent uses to enhance their health can also harm them if used improperly. Here are some ways you can keep medical equipment safe for your parent to use:
Make sure tubing and cords are tucked up properly to avoid tripping over them.
Ensure supportive equipment for transfers or lifting are in good working order.
Never smoke around supplemental oxygen equipment.
Obtain proper disposal containers for needles from injectable medicines.
Don’t forget your parent’s outdoor walkways when you’re helping them modify their home for safety. Your parent will appreciate having a clear path to get the mail or the paper each day.
Check the front stairs, pathways, and driveway for cracks or debris that could cause a fall.
Repair or add handrails for safety.
Add additional external lights if needed.
Add texture to surfaces that could become slippery.
Make sure house numbers are clearly visible from the street in case of emergency.
How Parentis Health can help
It can be difficult to balance your parent’s need for independence as they age with your desire for them to be safe. By avoiding these top safety hazards in the home for the elderly you’ll go a long way toward helping them stay in their home safely.
Parentis Health is here to help you and your parent. With services such as home caregivers, home health nurses, and in-home physical and occupational therapy, we can help you support your parent’s independence as they age.
Contact us today and let us show you how we can help take care of your loved one.