Owner's Blog

Approaching a home safety talk with an elder

By Glenn Holden

Making the decision to start an elder care journey with your aging parent can be a life-changing choice. When you make this decision you are committing yourself to giving of your time, energy, and effort to ensure that your parent's needs are met in the way that is best for them. Your role as his family caregiver also means that you are going to focus on keeping them as safe, secure, and independent as possible in their home. This means that one of the first things that you should do when starting your care arrangement is performing a safety check throughout his home.

Doing a home safety check throughout your parent's home allows you to identify areas that might be risky for your senior, or that you can modify to improve safety and accessibility. Remember that the safety and accessibility needs of an elderly adult are different from those of a young adult, making it necessary for you to evaluate the safety of the space in the context of his particular needs.

Use these questions to guide you as you move from room to room throughout the home checking the safety of the space and coming up with ideas for meaningful modifications:

Outside
    Are the handrails secure and properly installed?
    Can your parent safely and comfortably get up and down any steps that lead into the home?
    Would a ramp help your parent access the home more easily?
    Can your parent safely and comfortably open the door?
    Is the lock system on the door secure and adequate, particularly if your parent has wandering tendencies?
    Is the walkway clear and safe without any obstacles, loose areas, or other problems that could increase fall risk?

Living Room
    Is the lighting sufficient for your parent's vision needs?
    Is the furniture arranged in such a way that it is safe and easy to get around the room?
    Are there no loose or unsteady pieces of furniture around that may cause a serious fall if your parent attempted to use it for balance?
    Are there electrical cords across walking areas that could create a tripping hazard?
    Are there loose floor coverings such as rugs that could create a tripping hazard?
    Is there a smoke detector close by?

Bathroom
    Are there grab bars in place to help with balance and mobility?
    Is the toilet paper close enough to the toilet so that he does not need to reach such that he might lose his balance and fall?
    Can your parent get into and out of the shower or bath safely and confidently?
    Might a walk-in tub make the bathroom safer and more accessible to promote greater independence for your loved one?
    Is the faucet properly marked to reduce scald risks?

Bedroom
    Can your parent get into and out of the bed safely?
    Are the windows properly locked, particularly if your parent has wandering tendencies?
    Is there a smoke detector nearby?
    Is there a carbon monoxide detector nearby?

Kitchen
    Are the appliances in good working condition?
    Are large or heavy items stored too high off the ground?
    Can your parent safely utilizes the small appliances such as the coffee maker?
    Are sharp implements stored safely and securely?
    Is there a fire extinguisher easily accessible?

Remember to approach this topic gently, and if there's is strong resentment, try spreading it out over time.