10 ways to make a home safer for an elderly person
As our loved ones grow older, they can become less steady on their feet, increasingly forgetful and progressively frail. This can make living alone a risk to their safety and cause tremendous stress and worry for family and friends. Of course, we all want our loved ones to continue to live independently in their own homes, as much as they most definitely do. So how can we help to keep them safe at home? We’ve put together 10 ways to make a home safer for an elderly person to give you some ideas and help you to get some peace of mind.
Before you make any changes or install any new equipment, it is very important that you discuss everything with your loved one and involve them in any decisions. Not everything in the list below may be suitable or necessary for your loved one, so be sure to address their unique needs.
1. Make gripping and handling items in the kitchen easier with specialist aids such as kettle tippers, jar, bottle and tin openers, two handled cups, wide-handled cutlery, lighter plates & bowls, kitchen trolleys and non-slip mats.
2. Install automatic stove shut off devices to prevent fires and specialist taps or tap shut off devices to prevent flooding.
3. Avoid trips and falls by securing electrical wires to walls, sticking down rugs with double-sided tape or removing them completely, rearrange furniture so that there is enough room to manoeuvre around.
4. Check that there is adequate lighting around the home and place a lamp next to the bed and any frequented seat in the living room, this will help to avoid potentially hazardous walks over to a light switch in the dark. Ensure that there is a torch in these areas too, in case of a power cut.
5. Prevent slips and falls in the bathroom by placing non-slip mats next to the bath or shower and near toilets and sinks. If your loved one has difficulty bending down or sitting on low surfaces, you can fit a raised toilet seat. A shower chair and/or bath bench may considerably help with bathing. Most importantly, fit grab rails so that your loved one can support themselves when it is wet and when they are standing up.
6. Have a stair lift installed to prevent falls down the stairs and make it easier for a loved one with decreased mobility to get upstairs. If you choose not to opt for a stair lift, ensure that hand rails are fitted on both sides of the stairs.
7. Ensure that all furniture is stable and safe. Fix wobbly chair and table legs and cover any sharp edges or corners to avoid injury in the event of a fall.
8. Place phones in accessible places so that your loved one can easily call for help in an emergency. Phones with large buttons are ideal for people with deteriorating eyesight.
9. Fix cracked or broken paving slabs and steps outside and around your loved one’s home. Ensure that trees, plants and hedges are trimmed back away from any walkways. Install adequate lighting where needed and treat or remove any surfaces that become slippery when wet.
10. Use a home monitoring system like TextCare, to alert you about anything out of the ordinary such as no movement or a detected fall. Home monitoring systems can help to give families peace of mind that their loved ones are following their normal daily routines and ensure that help will be there if they need it.
Your loved one may be eligible to receive some of the above home adaptations free of charge by contacting your local social services department for a needs assessment.