Virtually everyone prefers to have care, when needed, at their own home. “I’d like to die in my own bed” is an oft-heard sentiment and it is easy to see why: At home you have the familiar around you. Your pictures on the walls, that special creak in the stairs, maybe even the smell of plumeria through the bedroom window. The idea of having to uproot from such comfort into a facility — regardless of how nice it may be — is often seen akin to being put in jail.
Family caregivers usually make every attempt to provide care-at-home, but this decision is one that needs to be made with the health, comfort, and safety of everyone involved in mind. As with every step in a caregiving journey, careful planning can make ease the way for everybody. (It should be noted that the economic reality of caregiving may also come into play: The cost of a care facility can range anywhere from $2000 a month to $15,000 a month and more! Those who have not planned for this kind of significant cost often have a rude awakening and family caregiving may seem to be the only option. In either case, the safety and comfort of the care recipient should be paramount, especially in the home.)
The first consideration in making the decision to provide care at home needs to be safety. Analyze the home carefully for accessibility problems or potential hazards. This may mean remodeling the home or adding pieces of equipment to enable safe movement for both caregiver and care recipient, such as ramps, runner mats for walkers, etc. We have compiled a Senior Safety checklist for the following rooms:
- Bathroom: Is the toilet high enough to be easily used without excessive bending? Can a wheelchair be maneuvered into the shower? See more at the checklist.
- Kitchen: If your loved one is going to be using the kitchen at all, great care must go into preventing burns and cuts from sharp objects. The temperature in the sink must be carefully regulated. See more at the checklist.
- Living Area: Floors with carpeting provide unstable footing for most seniors. Loose rugs and other trip hazards should be removed. Be aware of all surrounding furniture: If someone fell against them, would they suffer cuts from sharp edges or hardware? See more at the checklist.
- Bedroom: Consider the kind of bed being used and whether your loved one can get in and out easily (with or without proper help). Think of this room in terms of someone bed-ridden, even if your loved one is still fully mobile. The time may come when this room is their primary living space. See more at the checklist.
- Hallways, Entrances, and Exits: All must be easily negotiable. Ramps may be needed and meet ADA standards to prevent steep slopes. All ramps and stairways should have sturdy handrails on both sides. You may need to invest in coated sidewalks to prevent slipping.
TCF greatly encourages family caregivers to have a professional assessment of the safety and accessibility of a home done to help make the home as caregiving-friendly as possible.
The Caregiver Foundation has contracted with Pac Con LTD to provide this service to families at reduced rates — and 10% of the fee comes back to help support the work of the Foundation!