5 Home Improvements to Keep Elderly Family Members Safer
There comes a time when our relationship with our parents changes. From being the ones who always took care of you, you become the one they’re relying on for their safety and wellbeing. Like any change to your family unit, having elderly parents move in means making some changes to your home. Here are some of the home improvement jobs you should prioritize to keep your elders safe and as independent as possible.
Install Handrails to Limit the Danger of Falls
Ideally, elderly parents should live on the ground floor. However, they should feel free to move around the house, so be sure that all stairways are equipped with sturdy handrails. It doesn’t take specialized skill to know how to install a handrail. It’s a fairly easy DIY job. You may also want to install a bar to help them use the toilet safely and easily, and if they’re still able to use a bathtub, a handy grab bar could prevent a nasty accident.
Install a Shower if You Don’t Have One
As the years go by, getting into and out of a bathtub becomes increasingly difficult. Bathroom falls are a common cause of broken bones in elders, so be sure to provide them with some extra aids in the bathroom. A shower with a chair inside it offers a safer alternative to a bathtub even if your elders don’t need physical assistance to wash just yet. Ensure that bathroom mats have non-slip grip on the underside and provide an extra chair they can sit on while drying off and dressing.
Beware Trip Hazards
Handy as they may be as decor items, rugs can cause a fall. Rug edges are particularly risky since they can present a tripping hazard. Consider dispensing with loose rugs and installing a wall-to-wall carpet instead. It may not have quite the same effect, but it could prevent a nasty accident from happening. Be alert for any other tripping hazards you see, including loose cables, and teach your kids not to leave loose items lying around on the floor.
Keep it Light and Bright
Check the type of lighting and the location of lights and light switches to ensure that elderly folk don’t have to move through dark areas just to reach a light switch. Ensure that beside lights are working and easy to turn on, and if your elder is particularly frail, add a movement sensor that will turn lights on automatically if he or she begins to move around.
Install Bell or Panic Button
Make it easy for your elders to summon help at any time. A bell pull or button near the bed will give them assurance that you’ll be on call. You can also get wearable panic buttons that will alert you to any trouble, and if you link these to a security company that understands their purpose, they’ll get help fast, even if nobody else is at home.
Assess Their Needs
You may find that you need a few more extras to make elderly people in your care safe and comfortable. Use your observational skills to spot things they’re struggling with and to make changes as necessary. For example, they may need a bed rail to help them with getting out of bed or they may find it difficult to get up from low chairs. Be alert. Elderly relatives are often reluctant to ask for anything and their desire to be as independent as possible can lead them to accepting problems that you can easily fix. Taking care of our elders for as long as we can is the right thing to do. So prepare your home and yourself for a few adjustments and give it your best shot.