As we enter the Holiday season and a visit to our elderly loved ones may be planned, a great opportunity exists to make sure that their housing situation is safe and healthy. A high percentage of the elderly population, roughly 85 to 90 percent, want to stay in their PRESENT housing situation. However, to remain there, their health and safety need to be taken into account. This is where YOU come in. You can provide a fresh look when evaluating a situation. Behavior that is unsafe or unhealthy may have become familiar to your parents. Discuss your concerns and offer to help adapt their home to meet their changing safety needs.
Here’s how you can keep the elderly safe during the holidays…
You can go through the house room by room and check for potential safety problems. Things such as installing grab rails in the wet areas and removing area rugs and other trip hazards, can be taken care of right away. Additionally, you will want to pay careful attention to how they seem to manage their lives in their home. If you feel they are unsafe on their own because of health issues, make note of which behaviors have become most concerning. Discuss these concerns with your parents and their doctor.
There are a variety of things you can do that will make your loved ones’ surroundings safer and more accessible and comfortable.
First, quickly correct any real dangers. Slip, trip and fall hazards are near the top of the list. Don’t wait until the next visit to eliminate these potential problem areas.
Once the urgent issues are addressed, start working on other ways to make sure your parents will be out of harm’s way. Some home safety suggestions to use as a starting point are:
- Are the stairs manageable or is a ramp or other device needed?
- Are there any tripping hazards outside or the inside house (welcome mats or throw rugs for example)?
- Are any repairs needed?
- Is the house well lit, inside and out? Do any bulbs need to be replaced?
- Is there at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps on each flight of stairs?
- Is there carpeting or safety grips on the stairs?
- Is there clutter—which can cause disorientation and confusion—that may increase the risk of falling?
- Are all walk areas free of furniture and extension and electrical cords?
- If a walker or wheelchair is needed, can the house be modified? Perhaps you can install a ramp to the front door?
It is always helpful to seek and get agreement before you take any actions on the items that you have identified for correction.
These are just a few starting points for keeping your elderly loved one safe during the holidays and throughout the year. You may discover more as you focus on health and safety concerns in the home.
Making sure that your loved ones are in a safe and healthy environment can be mutually beneficial and ease any concerns you may have regarding their ability to remain in an independent living arrangement.
We hope you will take some time and look through our podcast resources for more helpful insight and education on caring for your elderly adult loved one.