One of the major problems for the elderly in the home is trips and falls. According to the CDC, one out of three adults aged 65 or over fall each year, resulting in injuries ranging from hip fractures and head trauma to grazes. To make the home safer for mum and dad, you should consider the following:
To begin with
- Suitable footwear: Make sure non-skid, secure footwear is worn by the elderly in and out of the home. Also, have your feet measured when buying shoes as foot size can gradually change.
- Sudden movements: Loss of balance can result from sudden, unsteady movements when getting out of a chair or bed, for example, which is why slow, steady movements should be promoted.
- Hazards: Take time to look for any possible hazards, including clutter, loose carpets and spilled liquids.
- Lighting: Access to a light switch should be available before entering a room.
Visit the doctor
Regular visits to the doctor are important for identifying potential problems and will generally include an examination of vision, hearing and mental status. Other health factors to consider include:
- Mental health and mobility: Mental health problems such as dementia can lead to mobility difficulties affect decision making.
- Medications: Lethargy or wooziness can result from some over-the-counter drugs. Be aware of this and consider moving away from medication to relevant exercise or nutritional changes.
- Health issues: Arthritis, diabetes, low blood pressure and bone-weakening conditions such as osteoporosis can lead to falls in the house. Be aware of this and make sure safety guards are in place.
- Occupational therapist: These are medical professionals who can help to improve the safety of daily living tasks for the elderly.
Safety tips for around the home
To improve safety for mum and dad in the home, you may wish to consider an emergency response system, using colours to indicate changes in surface levels or having a phone extension in each level of the home. Other rooms where you need to consider safety include:
- Nightlight: Include a nightlight in the bedroom to ensure seniors can see what they are doing.
- Clutter: Remove and store away clutter such as clothes and shoes.
- Bedside rails: These provide a sturdy surface when transferring to and from a bed row when getting changed.
- Adjustable bed: These are easily adjustable and will often improve comfort and safety in the bedroom.
- Easy to reach: Keep safe to use kitchen items easily accessible.
- Cords: Ensure any wires or cords are not likely to result in trips or falls.
- Stool: Have a step stool at hand to aid the elderly when reaching for highly placed items.
- Non-slip: Try not to use floor polish or wax which make the kitchen surface slippery.
- Handy devices: Consider safer utensils for mum and dad such as kettle tippers, knob turners and thick-handled cutlery.
- Non-slip surface: Because the bathroom can often be slippery, it will make a big difference if you install non-slip mats inside and outside of the tub.
- Grab rails: These can provide support in the shower or when transferring from inside and outside of the tub. Placing one next to the toilet can also help when getting up.
- Shower chair: These are ideal for stability in the bathtub and will also increase comfort.
Your parents are unique
No two elderly people are the same and the needs of one person will ultimately differ from another. It is therefore important that you consider the unique needs of your parents and implement home safety changes according to their needs. If you would like more information on home safety for the elderly, or if you have any further advice, please let us know in the comments.