Have you looked at your elderly parent’s home safety with a fresh eye recently? What changes can you make to provide a safer living environment for them?
My son’s school recently got a new principal and in the 16 days he has been on their campus, he has made changes to aesthetics that none of us noticed until they were fixed – think dumpsters that weren’t blocked from the street, so when you see the school, you see garbage. Sometimes it takes a fresh eye to really see the things that we are so used to looking at that they don’t stand out anymore.
If you visit your parents’ home regularly, you probably don’t notice the little hazards that are all around their home.
We’ve provided a room-by-room guide to evaluating safety throughout the home. Use this guide in addition to our Fall Prevention Guide to ensure they are in a safe environment.
General Home Evaluation:
– Is there enough light?
– Do they have smoke detectors on each floor of your home and outside each bedroom?
– Do they have a fire extinguisher on each floor and in the kitchen and garage?
– Do they remove hazardous waste safely and according to approved procedures?
– Do they have emergency phone numbers on speed dial and written out?
– Do they have a non-cordless phone, flashlights with fresh batteries and a battery-operated radio?
– Do they have extra bottles of water and non-perishable food?
– Are your parents able to safely get into their home? Can they climb the front porch steps without too much effort?
– Is there a handrail to assist them in climbing stairs?
– Is the porch well let?
– If they have a spare key, is it well hidden? This sounds obvious but I had a client who had her spare key in an envelope labeled KEYS under her doormat.
– Do their front steps get slippery when wet? Is the driveway too steep?
– If they have a wall heater or space heater, make sure there are no loose pieces of fabric or papers nearby.
– If their living room is the first room you see from their front door, be sure they keep valuables or important paperwork out of site.
– If they have heavy bookshelves or tall furniture, consider securing furniture to the walls so that they don’t fall on them.
– Is the furniture stable?
– Make sure they keep their stove free from clutter. Their oven and stove should not be used for storage and if they are using the burners, they should not have flammable items nearby. I once melted a tortilla bag on my glass stovetop because I accidentally had the wrong burner turned on.
– If there are mats in the kitchen, make sure they are non-stick and have rubber backing.
– They should clean up spills immediately so they don’t forget about them and slip.
– Have a fire extinguisher near the stove.
– If they have a toaster oven, clean it regularly. Food particles can catch fire in a hot toaster oven.
– If cabinets are too high, move items that are used regularly to a more easily accessible location.
– Are cleaning or flammable chemicals stored near heat sources?
– Do they have grab bars installed in their shower/tub and near the toilet?
– Are they able to easily step into shower/tub?
– Do they have non-slip mats?
– Are medications stored in a location where they can easily reach them?
In addition to making their living space safe, you should consider discussing safety precautions with your parents. Check out my post on Senior Fraud to review scams they should be aware of.
Are there other safety hazards you’ve been ignoring?