Many elderly parents or relatives want to maintain their independence by living in their own home, rather than moving into a residential home, assisted housing, or living with their children and families. While this is completely understandable, in these circumstances, close family need to make sure their homes are as safe as possible.
As parents or relatives get older, if they’re able to stay in their own homes, they may still have mobility issues or other impairments to contend with. They’ll need your help to make their homes as risk-free as they can be. Safety is an ongoing concern with ageing relatives, and preventing a fall or any other injury is a top priority.
While there’s much you could do to adapt any home, you may only need to change or adapt a few things to make their living space safe and free of potential hazards. Here are just a few examples of how to make homes safer for the elderly.
Repositioning furniture and organising cupboards
Though moving some of the furniture around may seem a little basic, this process can prove to be invaluable. Furniture is usually positioned with the look and the feel of the room in mind, but in doing so, it often causes smaller gaps to walk through and potential obstructions, increasing the risk of trips and tumbles.
When the safety of the elderly at home is paramount, aesthetics need to ignored to a certain degree. By making sure pathways through rooms are wide, and clear of potential risks, and ensuring plenty of space to negotiate freely if walking sticks, walking frames, or wheelchairs are required, you’ll create a much safer environment.
You should also any ensure any trailing cables are either behind furniture, ideally against a wall, or suitably covered to avoid a trip hazard. Giving more floor space to the elderly is crucial for easy access without hindrance, and removing unnecessary obstructions makes for a safer living environment all round.
Also look at the arrangements in the kitchen. Often, food cupboards are up high on the wall, making access difficult and potentially unsafe. By bringing more commonly used items down to lower cupboards, it creates easy access, while preventing the need to climb steps to reach, and risking items falling and causing injury.
Kitchen and bathroom improvements
There are several places around the home where grab rails and supports are to be encouraged for increased aid and safety. And nowhere is more important than the bathroom. Adding these will make life much easier in an area where the potential for slipping or falling is high.
Affordable and easily fitted, grab rails are essential to the health and well being of older people at home. Usually positioned to make it easier to get in and out of the bath or shower, or use the toilet without help, their addition can help maintain privacy, dignity, and safety where slippery surfaces and moist conditions go hand in hand.
If carers are required, unless they live-in, older people may be alone for long periods at a time. Helping them to do things for themselves and being able to use their own facilities whenever they need to, rather than waiting for a carer to arrive, can make all the difference to their quality of life, and help them maintain the control and independence they want.
And, as kitchens frequently get warm, it’s probably worth fitting a grab rail in here as well if you can. High temperatures can cause dizziness among older people, so providing a sturdy handrail as well as an additional chair or stool to sit on can help.
But using the kitchen on a daily basis for preparing and cooking meals is another way for the elderly to maintain their independence without having to rely on outside help. Where cases of dementia or any other mental deterioration is present, modification of appliances will help increase levels of safety too.
Anyone with memory issues can experience difficulty doing even the simplest of tasks in the kitchen. This could mean pots and pans are left unattended for a long time, forgetting to turn appliances off after they’re used, or leaving the gas on and leaving it unattended. This could result in potentially fatal injuries and a real risk of fire.
While many newer gas cookers and hobs come pre-fitted with safety devices, there are devices available that can be retrofitted to older appliances that will cut the gas off if left unattended for a period of time. There are also sensors available that can be fitted to monitor the use of electric hobs as well, recognising excessively high temperatures and cutting off the electricity supply.
In addition to making these changes to your relative’s home, in case of a real emergency, such as a fall or an accident, one of the best—and quickest—ways to alert someone for help is to use a Helpline personal alarm. With your independent elderly parent, friend or relative wearing a discreet pendant around the neck, or an unobtrusive wristband, help is on hand 24/7, whenever they need it.
By wearing one of these easy to use alarms, it will put the user directly through to Helpline’s emergency response centre within seconds. They’ll evaluate the severity of the incident, and will immediately call either the next of kin or other family member, a doctor, or any emergency service.
Fully waterproof, each Helpline personal alarm can be used at all times wherever it’s needed – even in the bath or shower. And, because of the alarm’s long range, it will work up to 50m away from the base unit, so no problems while they’re out in the garden or in the greenhouse. And Helpline have a range of pendant and wristband single alarms for anyone who lives on their own, as well as double sets for couples, friends, or relatives living in the same house.
For more information about the Helpline personal alarm service, and how it can give both you and your elderly friend or relative complete peace of mind every day of the year, call our customer service team today on 03458 247999 or visit www.helpline.co.uk