Recovery after surgery is hard enough on seniors without adding extra challenges from the home not being safe and prepared for when they return from the hospital. It is essential that caregivers think ahead and make the home as safe as possible in anticipation of the patient being released from the hospital.
As you consider the layout of the home, there are several things to keep in mind. Our assessment for safety at home will help you cover all the bases, so your older adult has a safe and smooth recovery once they have returned home.
As you think through your safety checklist, keep in mind also that your loved one may be taking medications that could make them drowsy or unstable on their feet. Your main goal as you assess the home is to remove any obstacles that could cause tripping or falling.
Safety Assessment. Inspect the areas that seniors will be walking in most. This would include hallways, bathrooms, stairs, the pathway to their bed, and the entrance of the front door. These areas should be well lit and easy to get around in. In outdoor areas, it would be helpful to install motion detectors that will trigger lights to come on automatically.
Look for ways to make points of entrance safer. If possible, you might want to consider getting rid of steps altogether or install a ramp that goes into the house. Railings should be inspected to ensure they are in good condition. Sidewalks should be smooth and free of anything that could cause a fall. Using remote locks for the doors is also helpful and eliminates the need to find keys all the time.
Make things easy to see. Mark faucets with bold red and blue buttons or stickers that will help the senior easily see hot and cold water choices. Glow in the dark tape is helpful to place around showers and toilets so they are more easily seen, even in the dark.
Look for ways to reorganize. Think about where things go and if the setup is practical for elderly people. Just because things have always been in a certain place doesn’t mean they have to stay there! Think about the things your senior will need to have easy access to and make sure the most common items are within arm’s reach. You may also want to remove any small tables or other furniture from hallways to keep pathways completely clear of obstacles.
Remove clutter. One of the most dangerous items in the home is area rugs. All rugs should be taken up to prevent any trips and falls. Clutter around the perimeters of the room should be cleaned up as well. This would include things like stacked up newspapers, etc.
Install added safety devices. Make certain that your senior loved one has grab bars in the bathroom, railing on all stairs and possibly even down the walls of hallways.
Inspect for damage. Take a look around the house for any signs of wear and tear that could cause safety concerns. Check for loose towel racks, windowsills that may have separated from the wall, torn shower curtains, etc.
Think about security. Prevent injury and accidents from happening to seniors who may still be a little confused after returning home from the hospital. Installing lock-in switches on stoves and thermostats will prevent older adults from harming themselves unintentionally.
See what is behind doors that are closed. Many seniors choose to close doors to rooms they are not using. Be sure to look behind these doors and inspect for damage from water leaks or mold. Make certain that vents that go to crawl spaces remain open.
As you can see, a simple safety checklist will go a long way in helping your senior loved one return home to a house that is safe and secure. For more information on home safety, please contact us today!