As your family members or loved ones age, so does their home. It is good practice to step back occasionally and examine the home to see how well the living arrangement supports your loved ones’ daily needs and activities.
Here are some no-cost suggestions for a safe home:
- Remove all scatter and throw rugs, which can lead to falls.
- Open blinds and curtains, and raise shades during daylight hours to increase natural light inside the home.
- Place electrical, phone and computer cord, along walls, where they will not trip anyone. To avoid the risk of fire, do not run the wires under carpeting.
- Remove clutter fromthe staircases and hallways to prevent trips and falls.
- Set the hot-water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding and to reduce energy consumption.
Here are some low-cost suggestions:
- Increase lighting by using the highest-watt bulbs possible for fixtures or lamps. Use high-efficiency bulbs, like LED to save on monthly bills!
- Place double-sided tape or carpet mesh under area rugs to prevent slipping.
- Replace traditional light switches with easy-to-use, rocker-style switches.
- Install night lights in hallways between bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Replace knobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grip D-shaped handles.
- Add anti-slip strips in the bathtubs and showers.
- Mount grab bars in the bathtubs and showers, and place a sturdy water-proof seat in the shower so your loved one can sit down while bathing or showering.
- Install a handheld adjustable shower head for easier bathing.
- Install handrails on both sides of each stairway to support your loved ones’ sure footing.
No home can be “sweet” if it isn’t “safe.” The types of home features and fix-its described in this column make homes easier to use, which increases the independence of residents and makes caregiving easier. I hope that these ideas prompt you to evaluate your loved ones’ home and to make the kinds of changes that you deem necessary and beneficial.
-Elinor Ginzler is a national expert on independent living and aging issues. She currently serves as AARP’s lead spokesperson on caregiving, housing, and mobility issues, including older drivers’ safety. http://www.lifeseniorservices.org/seniorline/Turning_Home_Sweet_Home_Into_Home_Safe_Home.asp