Being able to live in your own home is a privilege many individuals lose as they get older. Safety concerns, decreased mobility, illness or decreased cognitive function causes many seniors to be forced into hospitals or nursing facilities. At Cura HPC, we work to help our patients stay in their home whenever possible while receiving hospice care. Whether your loved one is in need of hospice care, or just in need of some additional safety precautions. here are some areas to check and additions to make in order to make a senior's home safer.
Proper lighting is important in any home. We need to be able to see well enough to walk through a room with running into or tripping over obstacles. This is especially important for seniors who may have diminished eye sight and balance. Because a fall can be so catastrophic, you should take every precaution possible to prevent one. That means arranging a senior's home so light switches or lamps are close to the entryway of a room. Also, put in nightlights in outlets along the way from the bedroom to the bathroom for those dark, late-night trips.
Another tip that applies to anyone is making sure there are working smoke detectors throughout the home. For seniors, this could mean helping them test them regularly and replacing batteries each year. This goes for carbon monoxide detectors also. With these warning systems in place, you can move on to fire extinguishers to actually put out small fires. Ideally, these won't need to be used, but it's important that one is available. A fire extinguisher is always necessary in the kitchen, and it's a good idea to keep another extinguisher elsewhere in the home, especially if there's a second story. Help your elderly relative keep these fire extinguishers charged, and make sure they know how to use them and are capable.
In order to help seniors keep their balance, it's beneficial to install handrails in certain areas of their home. If there are stairs, or even just a few steps, be sure there are sturdy handrails available to help them balance. The bathroom is another area that's essential to have handrails. Put them around the toilet to help seniors stand, by the tub to help them get in and out, and, in larger bathrooms, along the wall in case floors get wet and slippery. This could also make handrails handy in the kitchen where floors could also become slippery. Finally, consider installing a handrail by your loved ones favorite seat. It could be difficult to stand if they sit for too long.
Rather than adding anything in this case, it's important to check the flooring at a senior's home. Is the carpet, tile or wood floor in good condition? If not, try to identify any areas that could cause a trip and fall. These would include loose boards, loose edges of the carpet, loose tile, or any holes, rips or tears in flooring. This would also be a good time to look around the floor for other objects that could cause problems. You may consider removing any throw rugs, electrical cords, or other obstacles that could easily cause a trip.
There are some items in your loved one's home that they'll need easy access to every day. It can be extremely helpful to walk through their daily routine with them and make sure that each of these essentials is easily within reach. That may mean moving some things to lower shelves and cabinets, or even moving items from a room upstairs, to one downstairs. In some cases, you can simply buy a second, duplicate item so it doesn't have to be lugged up and down stairs or all over the house. Hopefully, you can completely eliminate the need for a step-stool or small ladder, but if one is still necessary, make sure it's stable, doesn't wobble and has sturdy ground to sit on.
Finally, it's important to place phones around a senior's home so they can always reach one in an emergency. Having a cell phone is helpful in many situations, but there's always the possibility that it isn't charged, has been damaged in a fall, or isn't on their person when needed. A good rule of thumb is to always be able to see a phone from anywhere in the house. Even that might not be enough, however. Consider a situation where your elderly relative fell and couldn't get off the floor. They wouldn't be able to reach phones on walls or counters. So, also think about putting phones on lower shelves or even the floor in some rooms in case of emergencies.
When precautions like these are taken, it becomes safer for seniors to remain independent and living in their own homes.
If you or a loved one become ill and would like to learn about the benefits of hospice care, contact us at Cura-HPC: (800)797-3839.