Senior Proofing Your Seniors Home
We’ve done it for our grandchildren. We did it for our kids (well we did after the 80’s). We know exactly what not to have laying around the house so our babies are safe. The harsh chemical cleaners are stored safely. The outlets have plug covers. The sharp corners have bumpers on them.
But how can we keep our beloved seniors from having accidents in the home? Here are some pointers that we have absorbed over 2 decades as an in-home provider for senior care for Mom and Dad in Columbus, Ohio.
Top 10 Quick Ways to Senior Proof Your Seniors Home
#10 Get Rid of Transition Rugs
Get rid of those transition rugs! Runners, area carpet, and interior welcome mats. They really should all just be called slip-n-slides. These ‘catch’ feet, they flop over. They cause falls. While these popular ornate comfort features really tie the room together, they can also tie up your seniors feet.
#9 Add Supplemental Motion Lighting
Add night lighting to dark hallways. Every hardware store has a selection of motion sensing lights that can spread some safe lighting to paths Mom or Dad may take to the bathroom in the middle of the night. These lights are an inexpensive way to increase visibility and prevent falls.
#8 Distribute Old Unused Furniture Strategically
Another thing to consider while you are making changes to your senior loved ones’ home:
Mom may not wish for you to take away all of her old dining room chairs. But we found strategic placement of these chairs along the way around the house may provide a few extra places Mom may sit as she is moving from room to room. Consider redistributing sturdy dining room table chairs in well-lit areas. If Mom and Dad are still walking and tire easily, chairs along their routes can enable safe rest areas and prevent falls.
#7 Get Rid of Flimsy Glass Shower Doors
Let me be clear: I HATE glass shower doors. As advocates for the elderly, we know bathing can be the most dangerous element of a senior’s day. This is why I hate flimsy glass shower doors.
When I find families who have these old dangerous glass doors, I offer to remove them on the spot. You only need to experience one accident in the shower involving a flimsy glass door to motivate you to go the extra mile to take such precautions. We have seen several bathroom accidents caused by shower doors. These narrow opening doors are actually quite easy to remove. A rod and curtain is an effortless replacement. Another reason we don’t like shower doors? Hard edges catch skin. There’s potential for scrapes or skin tears. The narrow openings create extra challenges for caregivers to assist your senior in the shower.
Don’t pay an overpriced contractor to do this for you. It’s not a bathroom remodel. Watch an instructional video on YouTube, or just let your handy son or grandson assist with this task. At Always There Home Care, we are glad to assist with implementing measures like these free of charge for our clients. This happens so frequently, I carry a power drill in my car.
#6 Fake Bathroom Grab Bars. Replace with the real thing!
These are the most confusing and potentially the most dangerous item in Mom and Dad’s home. We instinctually grab on to these bars to prevent a fall. They look EXACTLY like those strong and sturdy bathroom grab bars that are sold in EVERY HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE! You can find these grab bars on Amazon, and they are easy to install. We install these free of charge for our clients. Get as many of these grab bars in helpful areas as you can, and always have them installed in the bathroom.
#5 Low toilets
Homes built before 2000 will all suffer from commodes that are so low they are dangerous to seniors. An elevating device that attaches to a seniors’ toilet can be a game changer. A simple commode device that surrounds the toilet and provides stable assistance is a practical solution. Lowering our bodies for toileting requires thigh and core strength we healthy folks take for granted. Devices or even helpful care providers that can safely lower someone onto a toilet can be another safe alternative. In homes where there are not (yet) grab bars, these toilet assisting devices are a Godsend.
#4 Ornate Yet Dangerous Home Accoutrements
Here’s something we all overlook. We’ve provided home care services to widows in Columbus who’s late husbands owned tie-racks or belt hangers. These are often wall mounted have 40 or more metal flesh grabbing throngs on them. And yet they stay screwed into the wall right next to where Grandma keeps her wardrobe. One false move and we’ve got a terrible accident.
#3 Low Hanging Chandeliers & Cabinet corners
Lamps, hard edged cabinetry, grandfather clocks, and low hanging chandeliers that have corners capable of doing serious damage to skin or worse if a senior were to fall on them. Making provisions for safety includes looking at these sharp corners differently and covering those deemed dangerous with appropriate padding. A few years ago, a gentlemen who’s wife we were serving answered the door to welcome the caregiver and unbeknownst to him he was dripping blood from his forehead. He thought he was sweating. He had nicked a low hanging cabinet corner and fortunately we were there to provide care which ultimately needed stiches.
#2 The Entire Basement
Three words for seniors who still use their basements: Stop! No! and Don’t! “But Mom’s laundry is down there!”, or “Dad was just looking for something”. The best investment you may ever make to protect Mom or Dad from a fall at home is a lock for their basement door. Older homes have wobbly hand rails, poorly lit basements and lots of additional risky accident causing elements. The activities seniors are attempting to perform in the basement are easily done by caregiving staff on even the most modest of care plans. Lock the basement and start a weekly care plan so our team can complete the laundry or any other task that involves unnecessary danger for your beloved senior.
#1 Old Medicine. Old food supplies.
How frequently are you going thru Mom or Dad’s medicine cabinet? Have you found as we often do bottles of Aspirin from the 1980’s? What about milk from the summer? Seniors are particularly sensitive to illness caused by consumption of expired medicine or food. As part of our regular care services, our caregivers will go thru the fridge, the medicine cabinet and even go to the grocery store in order to be sure Mom or Dad has fresh supplies in the house.
Ben Smith is the Founder & President of Always There Home Care. After a career in Hospice Management, Smith realized there was a need in his hometown for a better solution of 24/7 Care for Seniors. Since Founding Always There Home Care in 2004, Ben’s passion for serving the elderly is evident in the selection of each member of his team. Always There Home Care’s motto: “Your Home. Your Rules. Our Care.” is the spirit and daily emphasis behind the important work that sets Always There Home Care apart. Call today to have a conversation with Ben to learn how the needs of your loved one could benefit from the special hand of talented care. We are the best provider of Senior Care in Columbus. We are (614) HOME-CARE. We are Always There for your family. We are Always There Home Care.