Guest Post Author: Sharad Chhakara | Safe Home for Elderly
An annual trip to your grandparents to celebrate Christmas is a perfect time to make sure our older relatives and loved ones are doing better than they may be willing to inform us.
One of them would be falling. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: One in four Americans aged 65+ falls annually, and home is the number one place where they fall and only less than fifty percent would let their physician know about it.
We must keep an eye on the following things whenever we are visiting our elderly loved ones:
- Observe whether they appear unsteady getting down and up from their seats or moving from room to room.
- A check on their memory loss, whether it’s interfering with their ability to perform their day-to-day activities.
- Do they look uncertain finding the proper words, when they are speaking with you?
- Do they repeat the exact same story within precisely the same visit?
- Do you see heaps of bills that haven’t been opened?
- Whether there is a smell of garbage, such that they couldn’t take it out or there’s a lot of clutter.
- Their weight has changed and you see their clothes are not fitting them, the way they used to.
- They just don’t have the same appetite at meals or they have difficulty eating.
- And finally in the event that you notice their medications don’t appear to be managed, and you find a lot of medicine bottles are scattered throughout the home and some of them are full, though a number of them are not.
These signs are not something to be taken lightly and undoubtedly, it is something we need to follow up with.
Have a discussion together, not on the day of the holiday party, but on a quiet, relaxing day.
There are 3 common mindsets of the elderly when it comes to making their home safe:
First – A lot of seniors don’t like to admit they’re getting older, so they avoid making changes.
Second – Even if they recognize they need help, they often don’t know where to start and look for it.
And thirdly – They worry about costs for making changes and thus, they avoid it altogether.
An overwhelming majority of seniors between 85 and 90 percent, want to stay in their homes as they age.
It is usually beneficial to a senior’s health if they can stay home as long as possible and this is especially true with cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Familiar surroundings are often the key to a senior’s sense of well-being. However, household hazards can pose serious safety problems that can threaten a senior’s independence.
In fact, falls and other accidents around the home are the leading cause of hospitalization and emergency room visits for older adults.
So how can you help? You may conduct an objective review of the conditions at your home and determine what needs to be done to make it safe.
There are some really simple and inexpensive ways following which we can make a home safer for seniors.
The bathroom is the room where most accidents are likely to happen. However, potential hazards can be found in every room of the house including bedrooms, kitchens, and stairwells.
It is important to start out with a complete home safety check to assess what your senior needs to make their home as safe as possible.
We should be conducting a room-by-room check, at least once a year, to ensure the home remains safe, as your seniors need change.
Since most accidents occur in the bathroom, let’s start from there. Stepping up into a shower or a tub can be tricky for seniors who have mobility issues, balance problems or nerve damage caused by diabetes or other concerns.
Add to that, the danger of slipping, because there is water involved. A walk-in shower can significantly reduce this risk and make it much easier for seniors to access without assistance.
I also recommend grab bars in the shower and around the toilet. They not only offer support, but they also provide seniors with a leverage to pull themselves up from a sitting position.
To help prevent falls, you need to create a safe bathroom. Use only rugs that have a non-slip backing on the back, so that they won’t lift up and cause a tripping hazard.
Another thing you can do is to place a stool in front of the sink, which you can use to sit on, while you brush your teeth.
Also, keep shower safety in mind. Use non-slip strips at the bottom of your shower to prevent slipping when it gets wet, or place a shower seat in the shower, which is especially helpful if you have any difficulty in standing for long periods of time.
If you have low vision, consider using contrasting colors for the walls, towels, toilet seat, floors, and grab bars.
You can also outline your grab bars and the edge of the shower to make it easier to distinguish where they are.
Another common area for trips and fall at any age, particularly for seniors. Make sure that your senior stairs have a secure handrail that runs to the length of the stairs and makes sure the stairwell is well lit.
Also, the stairway should always be clutter free to avoid tripping.
It is important to only keep those items, your senior uses regularly on the lower shelves, so they are not reaching above their heads to get something, which could lead to strains, loss of balance or a fall.
Also not having items on high shelves eliminates the need for your senior to get up on a stool.
Make sure there are adequate lighting throughout the house. Remove clutters and make sure that extension cords are flush against the walls and not in any path where your senior walks.
Remove all throw rugs even if they are secured down by an adhesive. The raisin elevation could take a senior by surprise and be a fall risk.
By following these simple steps, we can minimize a lot of accidents from being happening with our elderly parents and our seniors and provide them with a safer place to live.
About the Author:
Every time a senior person experiences injury or an intense life problem, it isn’t normal for their lives to straighten out. He never realized this, until his grandmother had a fatal accident in the bathroom and he held himself responsible. He felt that he could have done so much to prevent that accident, but it was too late by then.
He then built a house for his grandmother, so that she can live her life in safety and comfort. His great passion and a long term vision are to help people provide a safer place to live for the elderly.
Sharad Chhakara is an MBA graduate. You can visit his Blog http://safehomeforelderly.com/ that lays some basic guidelines on setting up a home that is safe to live for the elderly.