Many older adults prefer to live in their homes for as long as possible. While there are many benefits to aging in place, there are things to think about, too. For example, how safe is your parent’s home? What types of changes can you make to create an environment that is safe and secure?
Below is a checklist to go through as you look around your parent’s home. Aging in place may be a very good option for Mom or Dad, but it’s important that you are comfortable with the arrangement. Fortunately, a few small adjustments can make a huge difference in creating a stress-free home.
A lot of slips and falls happen in the bathroom because it’s a small room that tends to have slippery surfaces, such as wet tile and showers. Here are a few ways to make this room a safer place to be.
- Grab bars. Install grab bars around the toilet, shower and tub. Grab bars can support an adult’s weight if they were to slip and fall. A towel bar would bend or come out from the drywall, so do not rely on these.
- Transfer benches. Shower transfer benches look like small stools. They should be placed into showers so that your loved one can get in and out of the shower safely.
- Raised toilet seats. Yes, even using the toilet gets more difficult with age! Purchase a raised toilet set that shortens the distance your loved one has to sit or stand.
- Non-skid mats. Place non-skid mats by the toilet and sink. This will prevent your loved one from slipping on wet flooring.
- Temperature controls. Water temperature controls can be installed on the faucets to prevent the water from getting too hot.
Bedroom and Kitchen
Bedrooms are usually safe, but do pay attention to the bed and how easy it is to get in and out. The kitchen has a lot of hazards, so you may want to set rules. For example, not using the stove unless someone is home. It’s also a good idea to stock the freezer with easy meals to pop in the microwave.
- Bed rails. Install bed rails on your parent’s bed. The rails will help them get in and out of bed, plus prevent them from falling off in the middle of the night.
- Lighting. Switch out light bulbs so that the rooms are well lit. Layers of light are best, such as separate lights for over the oven and sink and lamps next to the bedside.
- Reacher sticks. Reacher sticks are helpful when reaching items or clothing high on shelves.
- Pull-down shelves. Pull-down shelves make it easy to access cups, plates and other household items.
The main priority in this room is keeping it clean and uncluttered. Stick to the basics: comfortable chairs and couches, a sofa table and lamps. There’s no need for knickknacks.
- Bare floors. Non-skid rugs can be acceptable, but it’s better to have bare floors in the living room. It’s common for people to trip over the rugs, especially if they have a cane or walker.
- Remove clutter. Keep the floor as clean as possible. Piles of books, magazines, pet toys, etc. can be falling hazards.
- Door levers. Swap out round door handles with lever handles. These are easier to use, especially for arthritic hands.
- Smoke detectors. All smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested. Replace batteries with a fresh set.
These are just some of the ways that you can make your parent’s home a happier, healthier place to be!