Transitioning into the caretaker for an aging parent isn’t always easy. From medications to doctor appointments, there can be a lot to remember.
Your parents deserve a nice relaxing retirement. And you deserve a fulfilling, comfortable time being their caretaker. Unfortunately, sometimes these needs clash.
Your parent wants as much independence as possible, but you don’t want to worry about them getting injured while you’re away.
And you’re not wrong to worry! 47% of elderly who fall are unable to get up without assistance. And staying down after a fall can cause muscle cells to begin to break down. This could lead to pneumonia, pressure sores, and dehydration.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure your home (or theirs) is as trip, slip, and accident free as possible.
The details can get overwhelming, but we’ve got you covered with this room-by-room safety checklist to keep any home safe and comfortable for a senior.
The living room should be a place of gathering and entertainment. Unfortunately, living rooms can contain many falling hazards.
Return your or your loved one’s living room to a place to make happy memories by safety proofing it in the following ways:
- Arrange furniture to create an open space so there’s less maneuvering required to get around. Get rid of any coffee tables or other items that are knee length or below.
- Make sure couches have firm seats and an armrest so they can easily get up.
- Tape down or remove any visible cords.
- Make sure any furniture they can lean on is secured. Remove rocking chairs or other items that can seem stable, but won’t help catch a fall.
- Be sure the carpet doesn’t have any tears or other uneven parts that could cause a tumble.
Nothing helps kick-start a new day like some good R&R. Make sure your parents or loved ones get a safe, restful sleep by taking the following precautions for their bedroom:
- Remove all rugs. Yes, it may be time to get rid of mom’s favorite Persian rug, as the edges cause a risk of falling.
- Make sure the room is well lit and all lighting is accessible. Place a nightlight by any hazards like stairs and near other lighting to reduce fumbling around at night.
- Avoid bedding that reaches to the floor. This can cause tangling.
- Have supportive slippers with non-skid soles by the bed to make for a safer exit.
The kitchen can be a dangerous place if the proper measures aren’t taken. Avoid not only tripping but burns and strains by making a few worthwhile adjustments:
- Make sure all kitchen items are within reach without requiring excessive bending or reaching. You can do this by storing all dishes on a wire rack on the counter, getting a fridge with a freezer below and rearranging cabinets to make the necessities more accessible.
- Use a faucet with one lever to avoid temperature mistakes.
- Request that the gas company modifies the stove to have a strong, noticeable odor in case of a gas leak.
- Set the water heater to 120 degrees to avoid water getting to scalding temperatures.
- Purchase an electric teakettle with an auto shut off option.
- Make sure the area around the stove is clean and clear of any clutter or decor.
- Clean exhaust filters regularly to avoid grease fires.
- Install non-slip flooring.
Stairs are a common point of injury for family members of all ages. Every year, over one million injuries are thanks to stairs.
The elderly and children are especially prone to a fall on the stairs. Taking extra measures to make sure stairs are safe will help the whole family:
- Remove all rugs and runners to avoid slipping or getting caught.
- Make sure no furniture blocks the path from the stair landings. The less maneuvering around required, the better.
- Install treads or anti-slip tape.
- Mark the end of each stair, especially if your loved one has trouble with eyesight.
- Install a handrail on every staircase, no matter how long or short.
- Make sure the entire stairway and both landings are well lit during the day and night.
Protect your parents and family with accident insurance
While following the tips above should help reduce your parent’s risk of injury, sometimes accidents are out of our control.
That’s why no matter what safety improvements you make to your home or theirs, it’s important to make sure your parents are protected by accident insurance.
Accident insurance helps pay for injury-related costs not covered by your medical insurance. And the cash goes to you directly, so it’s your choice whether the money goes to copays, medications, or even groceries or transportation.