We all feel safe in our own homes, but what happens when the home becomes a hazard?
When a loved one begins to encounter obstacles in the home it’s important to take action to safeguard their environment. This easy to remember checklist can help to prevent injuries, increase mobility as well as help your loved one to maintain a sense of autonomy.
The best way to begin safeguarding your loved ones home is to step into their shoes and try to predict the hazards they may encounter on a daily basis. An easy way to remember these precautionary methods is through the F.I.B.S. method.
A primary safety concern with the elderly is the prevention of falls.Falls are the leading cause of injury or even death among the elderly. Fortunately there are many ways to safeguard your home against potential falls.[fancy_list style=”circle_arrow”]
- Remove all tripping hazards such as books, shoes, toys, electrical cords, etc., from the floors.
- Remove all throw rugs.
- Remove furniture from high-traffic areas if possible, and pad any sharp edges with plastic bumpers.
- Remove the casters to stabilize movable furniture items.
- Remove unstable tables and stools to avoid tipping, and put fragile or breakable items away.
- If your parent uses a cane, you may also wish to attach a loose wrist loop to the handle.
- This will prevent your parent from having to bend down to retrieve a dropped cane.
- Add grab bars or handrails along staircases and hallways to help prevent falls, and grab bars next to closet doors to support your parent while dressing.
- Place colored, non-slip strips along areas where floor levels change, such as stairs and doorway thresholds, to help clearly identify where your parent will need to step up or down and prevent stumbles.
- Make sure the bed and chairs are easy to get in and out of, and that chairs have solid and supportive arms and backs.
[toggle title=”Illumination”]Lighting is another important safety consideration in the prevention of falls. It is easier for elderly eyes to adjust if there are consistent lighting levels throughout the house, using low-glare bulbs and shades.[fancy_list style=”circle_arrow”]
- Night-lights are helpful to guide your parent along stairways as well as from the bedroom to the bathroom and kitchen.
- Light switches placed at both the top and bottom of stairs will ensure good visibility.
- Install a light switch that can be reached from the bed to prevent your parent from fumbling in the dark if they awaken in the middle of the night.
- Illuminated light switches are much easier to locate in the dark, or you may choose a clap-on, clap-off lighting system.
- Flashlights should be easily accessible in all rooms of the home, especially the bedroom.
[toggle title=”Bathroom Safety”]The bathroom can be a particularly treacherous room for the elderly, but it is easily adaptable for safety. Consider taking these safety measures:
- Adding an elevated toilet seat with handgrips on both sides, and toilet tissue within easy reach can ease the strain on an aging parent’s back and legs, thus reducing the risk of falling.
- Equip the tub with a bath chair, or grab bars or a handrail placed at both sitting and standing levels.
- Use secure non-slip mats in the tub or shower, along with a wall-mounted liquid soap dispenser to keep your parent from having to bend down to retrieve a dropped bar of soap.
- Consider changing to hand-held shower devices. They are easier to use when mobility is limited.
- If your parent does happen to slip in the tub, a shower curtain securely mounted into the wall will offer more support than a pressure-hung curtain that will pull away easily.
[toggle title=”Outdoor Safety”]Safety Outdoors is a bit more difficult as you make sure all walkways, paths, steps, decks, porches and entranceways have good lighting, solid traction and handrails for support. Keeping sand or rock salt by the door is a good idea for potentially icy weather. If your parent is wheelchair-bound, ramps can be installed for easier access, but be sure that ramps have a very gentle incline to avoid unnecessary momentum. Exterior motion sensing floodlights will light your parent’s way and avoid the necessity of fumbling with keys in the dark. [/toggle]
When it comes to safety in the home, prevention really is the best medicine. Remember the F.I.B.S method as it will help you to create a mental checklist to protect and embolden your loved one. This method will also give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve provided every safeguard for their well-being.