Whether you are an older adult aging in place or your elderly parent(s) is moving into your home, it’s best to prepare not only a room for them but you will want to make modifications in the entire house as well. The goal is to work towards helping them to be as safe as possible and avoid as many accidents as possible. By planning for these issues, you will help to ensure not only a safe environment for your aging parents but you will also be making your life a bit easier as well.
Lets us look at the following approaches -
• Fall Proofing
• Assistive devices
• Fire safety
• Home security
• Home Modifications
Any sort of alteration in physical space could be very stressful and mentally disturbing to parents. For this reason, it’s very important to include your parents in this process of change, as much as possible. It is also recommended that , you do small changes at a time .This way, all of you are working together towards the best solution(s) to help keep your parents safe in the home.
Planning -Inspect the house, make a list, discuss with parents, reason out and arrive at consensus.
Then prioritize the task and start decluttering exercise .Do in small chunks, may be once a week and always in the presence of your parents.
Storage- Instead of throwing the things straight away, opt to store them in one place. Add more storage like cabinets, furniture with shelves, trunks etc.
Chords-Tuck away all the chords, ideally wrapped so that there is no chance of them getting caught by a foot, a cane, a walker, etc.
Furniture-Remove big pieces of furniture, side tables etc, rearrange the remaining ones, and make pathway wider and free of clutter. Get rid of furniture with sharp corners. Stabilize the furniture and make sure all seating is sturdy, eliminating any wobbly chairs or other unstable furniture
Put everyday items within reach, preferably lower shelves.
Make sure all area of the house, especially walking areas are clear of clutter that could cause tripping or other accidents
Install adequate Lighting-Place lights everywhere, especially in those areas that are used at night time. For example, the path from the bed to the bathroom, the pathway to and from the kitchen, etc. Motion sensor lights are ideal for night time. Make sure lamps are within easy reach of seating, the bed, and so on.
Anti-Slip Floors-There are a variety of products available to increase friction on the floor and reduce the chance of tripping.
Anti-Slip Rugs – can be used for bathrooms, Kitchen, Toilet, Bedrooms. They not only helps to prevent falls but it can also help to cushion a fall as much as possible.
Grab Bars and hand rails - Is a wonderful product which can be installed by the bed, in the bathroom, or living room. It helps anyone who has trouble
standing from a sitting position.
Adjust the Height of Bed- If your parents’ bed is too high or too low for them to safely get in and out of, I strongly recommend that you purchase a new frame that is an appropriate height.
If they use a wheelchair, you want the height of the bed to be as close as possible to the height of the seat of the wheelchair.
Bathrooms- Raised toilet seats, shower chairs and transfer benches are more tools that you can use to help minimize your parent’s fall risk.
Alerts – Bedside bells, Medical alerts and other tech tools help in raising alarm and calling for help in case of emergency.
We recommend installing smoke alarms, fire detectors, sprinklers in your home.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Keep a fire extinguisher in an easy to reach place in case of cooking mishaps. You also need to have a smoke detector in the kitchen, and on each level of the house
Install security cameras in front & back of your house, also in the living room. Have a safety chain on the main door.
Home modification depends on the original lay out and the need of senior living in it. But generally, home modifications usually include:
Widening of doorways if you can, install doorways that are 36 inches wide. This allows for greater manoeuvrability, especially with a walker or wheelchair.
Levelling the floor – to avoid tripping, also use anti slip mats/tiles. Use Ramps, instead of stairs.
Alterations in Bathroom- 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 due to slippery surfaces. Using a shower seat is also safer than standing in a slick tub. Installing a shower mat or non-slip decals to the bottom of the tub is also a good idea.
• Install a hand-held shower head to make it easier to shower, especially when seated.
• If possible, install a shower with a step-free entry. This reduces the risk of tripping while getting in and out.
• Install a safe lock- Install a door knob that can be unlocked from the outside. This way, if there is an accident, help can reach the injured person more quickly
Alterations in Toilet- Install an elevated toilet seat to allow seniors to get up and down easily if the seat is too low. If it's too high, contact a plumber to have a new toilet installed.
• A low toilet can be hard on a senior's knees. A high one may create a falling hazard. Add safety grab bars next to the toilet and shower to provide extra stability and increase safety.
Alteration in Kitchen-
• Place appliances within reach. Place all appliances at waist level so seniors do not have to struggle to reach things that are either too high or too low.
• Similarly, place dishes, glassware, and other frequently used kitchen items in low drawers rather than high cabinets to make them more reachable.
• Install accessible counters. If possible, install counters at two different heights so that someone can comfortably prepare food either while standing or seated on a chair or stool.