How safe is your home for aging loved ones? If they are still living independently, how safe is their home? Experts estimate the vast majority of hospitalizations in aging people are the result of accidents in and around the home – most commonly falls.
The Home Safety Checklist can help you take a look at the living situation of your loved one and help them make decisions on improving home safety. Alternatively, an assessment service can be made by trained volunteers or through the services of a professional.
Analyze your home carefully for safety problems. This may mean remodeling the home or adding pieces of equipment to enable safe movement for both caregiver and care recipient.
- Bathroom accessibility: Is the toilet high enough to be easily used without excessive bending? Can a wheelchair be maneuvered into the shower? Should grip bars be installed for entering/exiting the shower and/or for sitting/standing from the toilet?
- Kitchen safety: If your loved one is going to be using the kitchen at all, great care must go into preventing: burns from the stove or oven, cuts from knives or broken cookware, glasses, and plates; injury from unregulated temperatures of water in the sink.
- Living area: Are there any trip hazards? Floors with carpet provide an unstable footing for most seniors. Loose rugs should be removed. Can a wheelchair or walker easily maneuver through these spaces? In every area, and especially the living area, adequate lighting is critical (this lighting will usually seem brighter than needed to you.) Look at the shelves, cabinets, tables, and chairs: If someone fell against them, would they suffer cuts from sharp edges or hardware?
- Bedroom: This space should be one of the easier rooms with which to deal. Consider the kind of bed being used: Do you need to upgrade to a hospital-style bed that can be adjusted to more comfortable positions? Can your loved one get in and out of bed easily or with proper help? Is the bed set up to minimize pressure sore? (There are multiple types of mattresses and covers that reduce the development of pressure or bed sores).
- Think of this room in the terms of a bedridden individual, even if your loved one is able to move around the house right now. The time might come when this room is the primary area being used.
- Hallways and miscellaneous areas: Keep these areas clear of furniture and rugs. They must be brightly lit at all times. Using motion sensor light switches will help to minimize electric bills while still ensuring light is easily available when someone enters an area.
- Entrances and exits: It is crucial that these throughways are easily negotiable. Ramps should meet ADA standards to prevent falls caused by a senior attempting to negotiate too steep an incline. All ramps and stairways should have sturdy handrails on both sides of the walk. The surface should be coated to prevent slipping. (Do not use abrasive grit, which could result in substantial tearing and injury if your loved one were to fall.)
TCF highly recommends consulting a professional to come into your home and conduct a thorough assessment for you and your loved ones. They can provide suggestions to help make the home as caregiving-friendly as possible.
Contact us at (808) 625-3782 to arrange an inspection of your loved one’s dwelling.