As seniors are opting to continue living in their own homes and savor independence for as long as possible. In the interest of your parents happiness, you want to accommodate them as much as possible, but with age, comes the increased risk of falls, burns or other injuries, as mobility and vision begins to falter. Therefore, it is extremely important that the property is checked for safety.
Perhaps your parents still live in the home you grew up in and wonderful memories are rekindled each time you visit as you appreciate the familiar surroundings, but as you evaluate safety concerns, you’ll find it is necessary to view it from an entirely different perspective. For instance, the living room might still adorn the handmade area rug that you remember playing on, but as edges become tattered and curled, that memory sake should be viewed as a tripping hazard. Steep stairs leading to the beautiful front porch are too steep for tired, worn knees, and the beautifully landscaped yard may be too much work for dad now. The memories will always live on, even if the aesthetics change, so use this home safety checklist to help you hone in on potential dangers for your parents.
Going up and down stairs constantly can be dangerous for healthy adults, but as we age, multi-level homes are not always convenient as bones become more fragile, joints less limber, and balance more of a challenge.
Have both the steps and handrails checked for stability and safety.
Make sure the stairwell is cleared of clutter.
Walking surfaces should be non-slippery and level.
Stairs should be well lit to prevent falls during the night.
The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home and commonly overlooked as a safety hazard. However, this is definitely an area that should be checked for safety.
Have a fire extinguisher in easy reach and verify it works properly.
Check electrical cords and replace any that are frayed.
Use a step stool equipped with a handrail for high cabinets.
Check the stove area for proper ventilation.
All electrical outlets should have GFCI protection to safeguard against fire or electrocution.
If your parents display patterns of forgetfulness or if they often burn food or fail to refrigerate leftovers, it would be recommended that a caregiver help with meal preparations.
Living Room Safety
Another well-used area of the home, the living room can pose tripping hazards ranging from electrical cords, telephone, Internet, and cable wiring, as well as area rugs, magazines and more. Furniture and tables should be checked for sturdiness and functionality. Also, if the room is equipped with a gas stove or fireplace, have it serviced and inspected to prevent fumes or smoke from accumulating in the home when used.
Bedroom and Bathroom Safety
The bedroom and bathroom are frequently used during the night; so to prevent the risk of injury, have lamps or flashlights easily accessible. There should also be ample lighting with switches that are conveniently located or voice activated.
A sturdy chair will provide a safe place to get dressed.
Curtains and other fabrics should be cleared of any candles or ashtrays to prevent fire.
A bedside table offers an easy to reach spot for eyeglasses and flashlights should it become necessary to get up during the middle of the night.
Home safety is important for everyone and as your aging parent continues to live at home, maintain heightened awareness of their health and ability to function and make changes to daily routines and living spaces accordingly.
You may even want to work with a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) who can help identifying fixes in homes. Read our post about Making Your Home Safer with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.