Most seniors want to age in place at home. We all get that, right? Home – with our own stuff, familiar surroundings, negotiable floor space (most of the time), and plenty of privacy. But what about when a family has concerns about safety, mobility, and the ability of a loved one to complete activities of daily living?
If your aging parent hasn’t quite reached the point where they need help at home, it’s time to start planning. Know an older adult who already has you worried? The time to start making changes to implement home safety is now.
7 Suggestions for Senior Home Safety
- Don’t use area rugs.
- Replace handles on doors and faucets.
- Install grab bars.
- Reduce fall hazards.
- Keep light switches in reach.
- Install an outside ramp to the front door.
- Hire private duty home care.
1. Flooring is an important part of home safety for a senior.
That includes area rugs. They may be pretty but for someone with a shuffling gate, it’s one more obstacle on the way to the bathroom. Additionally, if a walker gets snagged on the edge of the rug, that is a disaster waiting to happen.
If the home has installed carpeting, double-check that all the edges are firmly affixed to the floor. To improve safety, you may consider changing thick carpeted floors to smooth surfaces like vinyl, rubber, and cork. Each of these offers a comfortable floor to walk on while also being durable, slip-resistant, and reducing impact if someone has a fall.
2. Get door and faucet handles that are comfortable to grip.
Traditional round doorknobs require gripping and turning which can be difficult for an older, arthritic hand. Lever handles that are easy to push down can be a great help to the senior who strives to stay home independently. This type of handle can also be operated with a forearm or elbow, making it a very versatile and inexpensive solution for making aging at home more comfortable.
Lever-style faucet handles are also an easy fix for sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. Hard-to-grip round knobs can be frustrating and leave the senior at risk of scalding themselves when they can’t adjust the water temperature fast enough. This is especially true in the shower where water-related scalds happen more frequently than we would think. Faucet handles are a quick fix and also provide a nice, updated look to the home.
3. While you are fixing up the bathroom…
Install grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower. This is a cost-effective solution for extra support where seniors need it most. Unlike other bathroom modifications, grab bars are inexpensive and easy to install.
Benefits of Grab Bars
Hold weight while maneuvering
Something to grab in case of slip or fall
Grab bars provide help with maintaining balance and help lessen fatigue when standing from a seated position. Almost 80% of falls in the home occur in the bathroom. The good news is that this simple fix can help seniors stay in their homes longer.
4. Take note of fall hazards for additional home safety.
Getting from here to there becomes a longer, slower process as we get older. Reduce fall risks by keeping walkways free from clutter and eliminate trip hazards such as extension cords or too much furniture in a small space. On floors and surfaces that can get slippery when wet, the addition of no-slip strips can be helpful.
Aging safely at home means looking at the living space in a whole new way. Stop and take a good look at each room. Pay careful attention to items that are about knee height – they can be hard for a senior to see and, when in a rush (perhaps to get to the bathroom?), can cause trouble for the senior striving to age at home safely.
5. A well-lit house is a bright idea.
Home safety involves fixing the things we can see and minimizing the risk of not seeing a potential safety hazard. Light switches can be placed at both ends of a hallway and at the top and bottom of stairs. Like faucets or door knobs, toggle switches can become hard to maneuver so consider the rocker-style switches or even setting up smart devices to turn on and off lights on a timer or verbal command.
Place nightlights in frequently used places like bathrooms and the kitchen to provide lighting on demand throughout the night. Unlike the childish nightlights of times gone by, today’s nightlights range from decorative to artsy and blend beautifully into home décor. Looking for a super discreet option? Install outlet cover plates with built-in LED lights that are sensor-activated to turn on in the evening and off in the morning.
6. Eliminate any barriers to the entry door.
Whether the senior enters the home from a side door, inside garage door, or through a front door, there is often a series of steps, stairs, or other difficult terrain to navigate. Install a ramp with handrails to the door they use most. A gentle incline beats a series of steps any day!
One of the greatest benefits of a ramp is increased mobility for the senior. A well-placed ramp can eliminate the fear of falling upon entering or exiting the home. Let them come and go in comfort now and prepare to maintain their independence when a walker or wheelchair is needed for mobility.
7. Private duty home care is key to home safety.
Aging at home safely depends on more than just physical changes to the home. It can also mean help with activities of daily living. However, at our core, humans are social beings, so socialization and interaction are important for everyday success.
A private duty caregiver is an integral part of a plan to help a senior age at home safely. When independence is the goal, a private caregiver helps observe the areas where a senior needs support. For example, decluttering the living room for a safer walking space or different faucet handles to remain independent in the bathroom.
Home Safety for Seniors is a Combination of Support
If your family’s goal is to keep aging parents at home, there are many ways you can create a safe space for them to remain independent. With home modifications and new technology, you can increase the time they can age in place in their own home. But even with all the physical changes to the home, nothing beats the one-on-one attention and concern of a private duty caregiver.
As you create a plan that includes aging in place at home, think about how you can use a private duty agency to help you extend that time at home safely. Whether you live in the same town as your aging parents or across the country, private home care is an ideal way to stay connected to an independent parent (or parents). They can still navigate life on their terms – and that, thankfully, can include just a little bit of help.
In Brevard County, Florida, there are plenty of options for private duty home care. Ask friends who have used private duty services before, your primary physician, and other healthcare professionals for recommendations. Prepare a few questions about the type of care you are looking for and call a few agencies to explore options.
In a county that is abundant in services for seniors, there are a few trusted Resources We Love. Learn more about those companies, including Private Duty Home Care, in the Resources Section of our Blog.