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Making Home safe for seniors

Make Your Home Safe for Your Aging Parent Adapting to accommodate your loved one

Source: AARP

Make Your Home Safe for Your Aging Parent.
Adapting to accommodate your loved one

Job #1 when moving your aging parent or loved one into your home — or helping them age in place in their own home — is making it safe. Take a look at the home from the perspective of a person who uses a wheelchair or is a fall risk.

You need a plan.

1. Call in a pro.

  • Start with a home assessment by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, geriatric care manager or other certified aging-in-place specialist to access the home and recommend modifications and remodeling projects that will make it easier and safer.
  • Check out the Department of Veterans Affairs tip sheets on modifications for a specific diagnosis.

2. Modify.

Adapted homes can be stylish, comfortable and safe for all ages. You may need:

  • Zero-threshold entryways
  • Wide doorways and halls
  • Offset door hinges to make room for a wheelchair, walker or two people walking side by side
  • Controls and switches that are reachable from a wheelchair or bed
  • Waterproof seat in the shower
  • Stair-climber
  • Raised toilet seat
  • A shower chair
  • Frameless walk-in shower with a sloped floor instead of a step-over threshold
  • Put textured no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower to lessen the chance of a fall

3. Make simple fixes.

Every year, 1 in 4 adults over age 65 take a fall. To lessen the chances:
  • Remove throw rugs.
  • Use rubber-backed bathmats.
  • Move laundry facilities to the first floor.
  • Remove wheels on chairs.
  • Put nonskid treads on steps.
  • Keep steps clear.
  • Apply nonslip wax to floors.
  • If wandering is a worry, add monitors and sensor alarms.
  • Repair loose carpeting or raised areas of flooring.
  • Move small and low furniture.
  • Clear electric cords and clutter.
  • Add a hall railing.
  • Switch out standard doorknobs for lever handles.
  • Add a raised toilet and grab bars.
  • Remove locks from bedroom and bathroom doors so you can get in quickly, should your loved one fall.
  • Put a railing on the hall wall.
  • Swap out your recliner for one that raises and lowers — to make getting up easier.

4. Do your homework.

Call your area agency on aging, Veterans Affairs office, or faith-based, civic or other community-based organizations for in-home care provider referrals. You should:
  • Run background and reference checks.
  • Monitor their work.
  • Stop by at unexpected times.

5. Stay out of hot water.

You may want to:
  • Invest in easily installed sink, tub and shower antiscalding devices that recognize when the water is too hot and stop the flow. Cost: about $40.
  • Option 2: Adjust the thermostat on your water heater so it stays at or under 120 degrees.

6. Light the way.

As we age, we need more light. Install:
  • Bright lights in hallways, closets, stairwells
  • Extra lamps — consider models that turn on and off with a touch
  • Outdoor motion sensor lights and path lights

7. Modify the kitchen.

Put frequently used items on an easy-to-reach refrigerator shelf. Also:
  • Consider using automatic devices to turn off the stove and oven or installing an induction cooktop — which turns off when a pot is removed from the burner.
  • Hang a fire extinguisher within reach.

8. Check alarms.

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your loved one’s bedroom, and test existing alarms.

9. Stay connected.

If your loved one is home alone:
  • Check in with Skype or another video-chat app.
  • Mount a motion-activated security camera in the home — with your loved one’s permission.

Need help caring for a spouse or parent? Heritage Senior Care can provide custom care. Call (800) 562-2734

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