As anyone you love grows older, they will reach a point where they will need to make adjustments to their living space to ensure it’s safe and that it meets their changing needs. If your aging loved one wishes to remain living in their home for as long as possible, it’s important to help them make these adjustments that can prevent a future accident and improve their ability to care for themselves.
Here’s a brief overview of just some of the many things you can do to alter the most heavily used living spaces in a home to better meet the needs of a senior adult.
In the kitchen the biggest dangers are sharp objects and the stove and oven. Sharp objects, such as knives, should be stored in a knife block, ideally. This hides the sharp edges of the knives so that they are only accessible when needed. Even when stored safely, knives still pose a hazard as they are used, washed and transported. Depending upon the ability of your loved one, you may consider removing most or all sharp objects from the kitchen, especially if they are not generally needed for basic food preparations.
It’s common for a senior adult to forget to turn off the oven or stove. You can write notes reminding your loved one how to use these appliances and how to turn them off. You can purchase a kitchen timer and leave it near these appliances so that a timer can be set when cooking. You may also want to tape a sticker near the oven and stove reminding them that these surfaces are “HOT!”
In the bathroom, you will want to be sure your loved one has proper support to use the toilet and shower. Guide rails and stools can make it easier and safer for a senior adult to use the bathroom. Another potential hazard is the misuse of medications or bathroom products. You’ll want to be sure that everything is clearly labeled in a way that makes sense to your loved one. Finally, make sure that bath rugs have rubber backings so they cannot slide. Bath rugs will also help soak up any water that could cause a slipping hazard.
In the bedroom, you’ll want to make adjustments so your loved one can easily maneuver around the bed, especially if they require a wheel chair, cane or walker. The height of the bed can also pose a challenge. If it’s too high, they may need a step stool. If it’s too low, it will be difficult to get up without help. Also be sure there is an adequate night stand that can house a lamp, electronics and any other personal items that are frequently needed throughout the night like water, medications or glasses.
Similar to the bedroom, you’ll want to help arrange the living room in a way that makes it easy for your loved one to maneuver around. Check the flooring to be sure there are no loose rugs, long cords or furniture that could cause someone to trip. Less is more! Since your loved one will be spending much of their time in this room, it’s smart to place a phone here so they can take calls without having to quickly move to another room. The phone also provides a means for communication should something happen.
Stairs pose another challenge for aging adults. At some point it will not make sense for your loved one to climb up and down stairs each day. You should consider rearranging things so that their core living spaces all on one floor. Outside, you’ll also want to assess the stair situation. It may be necessary to put in a ramp. Every so often you’ll want to check for any faulty locks on doors and broken or worn out items that need replaced. Things like a burned out lightbulb or dead smoke alarm battery are as annoying as they are unsafe!
Do you have additional questions related to creating a safe living environment for a senior adult? We are happy to answer! Leave a comment below or contact Ella Home Care today.