When an aging parent lives alone, it isn’t uncommon for their adult children to spend a great deal of time wondering and worrying about their safety. This is especially true if the senior lives in an older home. Houses built many years ago typically weren’t designed with seniors in mind.
Older houses often have stairs to climb up and down, a laundry room located in the basement, and bathrooms with tubs instead of walk-in showers.
Conducting a safety assessment of your aging parent’s house is one of the best ways to identify potential hazards and come up with a plan to fix them before a crisis occurs.
Conducting a Safety Assessment of a Senior Loved One’s Home
Here are a few items to make sure you don’t overlook when you are assessing an aging loved one’s home for safety:
- Bathroom Hazards: More accidents occur in the bathroom than any other room in the house. Start by removing any towel bars your parent might be using or tempted to use to pull themselves up with. Towel bars are not safe or designed for this purpose. They can break away from the wall causing the senior to fall. Replace the towel bars with sturdy grab bars near the tub and toilet. It also helps minimize their risk for an accident if you reorganize the bathroom so the items used most frequently are stored within easy reach. Your goal should be to prevent your loved one from climbing on a stool or getting down on the floor to find supplies. It might also be necessary to renovate one bathroom to accommodate a step-free shower stall.
- Flooring Assessment: An often overlooked hazard in a senior’s house is the flooring. Older carpeting is more likely to have rips and wrinkles which create fall hazards. Thresholds between rooms can also be a concern. Make sure the flooring in every room is level and in good repair to prevent your loved one from tripping.
- Good Attention to Lighting: Vision problems are more common as we age. It’s one reason why good lighting is so important. Walk through your family member’s home room by room to evaluate their lighting. Pay close attention to lights at the top and bottom of stairways, in long hallways and in the rooms used most often.
- Fire Safety: Seniors are much more likely to be injured or lose their life in a fire. Many times it’s because their smoke detector doesn’t work or they have hearing loss and can’t hear the smoke alarms go off. Fire prevention experts say you should test smoke alarms each month and change the batteries twice a year. If you don’t live near your loved one, call their local fire department. Some offer this service at no charge to older adults. You might also want to invest in smoke detectors that vibrate and/or turn on a strobe light in the event of a fire.
- Exterior Assessment: Don’t forget to look for potential risks outside your loved one’s home and in their garage. Be sure the railings on outside stairs are in good shape and strong enough to hold the senior’s weight when they pull against it. Look for cracks in walkways and stairways. Also make sure there is a motion-activated light to illuminate the garage and path the senior takes after dark.
The Facts About Falls and Seniors
The statistics on falls among older adults are alarming. One in three adults over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year. These falls are the leading cause of disability among seniors. It’s why paying close attention to your loved one’s environment is so important.
If you think it’s time for the aging parent or senior family member in your life to consider a move to a safer location, Heritage Senior Communities invites you to stop by for a tour at your convenience!
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