It does not matter if your parent(s) live in a ranch-style home, condo or trailer home, there are safety issues which when properly addressed will give the entire family additional peace of mind.
Whether you are an adult child or concerned neighbor there are many ways you can assist the elderly to avoid falls resulting in broken hips or poisoning due to spoiled food or old medications; fires because of faulty electrical wires, etc.
1. Check lamps and light fixtures to upgrade the wattage. It your parent cannot see clearly they will find less enjoyment in television, reading, knitting, etc. Better light will lessen the likelihood of falls resulting in hip fractures or other broken bones. This is a very simple and easy update just for the cost of light bulbs.
2. Put night lights in every room including staircases and hallways.
3. Replace that old shag carpet with low-pile and get rid of the throw rugs. With low-pile carpet there is less chance of catching and stumbling. The same goes for throw rugs. Even young people can catch their toe on the edge of a rug and go tumbling – avoid the entire issue by removing them from the house. If your parent insists on something just inside the back door find a rubber-backed flat mat which is made just for that purpose.
4. Toss the spindly furniture. Solid furniture is more likely to stay upright if your parent drops into the chair. You may even consider a lifter recliner as a gift at some point. Then all they do is back into the chair and are then lowered to a seating position.
1. Check the refrigerator and freezer for expired foods including condiments. There are also canned foods or packaged items in the pantry to check out. When my mother-in-law died there were canned items in her pantry that (according to the sales receipt) she had purchased 18 years previously. Would you want your parent to take a chance?
2. Pots and pans should not be too lightweight that they fly out of the hands or too heavy to lift. Don’t forget to check the handles and tighten it necessary.
3. Make sure the stove top and oven is in proper working order. Regulate the temperature and make sure the controls are large enough to read and to grip if the parent has any arthritic problems.
4. Look into purchasing small appliances that will shut-off automatically after a certain period of time, i. e. coffee pot, iron, cook-top, etc.
While the above suggestions are by no means all-inclusive they do offer a starting point to begin the process of safety in your parent’s home. Other important areas to consider for safety are the bathroom, bedroom and exterior of the home which will be addressed in a future article.
Joanne Robbins has published several articles on a variety of topics. Her most recent project is http://boomer-gear.com for those who have achieved 50+ status.