Is Your Aging Parent Safe At Home? Look For These Signs of At-Home Safety Risks
If your aging parent lives alone, you may worry about their safety at home. Maybe you’re concerned about their home being a safe environment for them or they have new people in their lives who concern you. If something is raising a red flag, you should definitely look further into the concerning safety issue.
Unfortunately, as we age, we may not have the same balance or flexibility we had before. The power cord on the floor that was never a problem suddenly causes you to trip. You forget you left the stove on. An unsavory character enters your life and tricks you out of your money. No one likes to think these things can happen to them or their aging parents, but unfortunately, these senior safety challenges can happen to anyone.
So how can you tell if your aging parent is safe at home without making them defensive about their ability to care for themselves?
- Respect: Don’t accuse them of being unsafe in their home or question them about a new friend like you are interrogating them.
- Collaborate: Don’t barrel in acting like you’re going to save the day. Work with your aging parent and try to find solutions to your safety concerns together.
- Check In: Once you’ve decided on your plan of action, continue to check in with your aging parent to make sure they’re following the plan and haven’t fallen back on old habits.
Common Senior Safety Issues
If you aren’t even sure of what types of safety hazards to look for, here is a list of possible safety hazards.
- Fall Risks: Falls are more common as we age. They can either be caused by medical conditions or by hazards in the home.
- Fire Safety: Can you believe that I knew more than one person who heated her home by turning on the oven and keeping the door open? No joke, this happens! It makes me really nervous about living in communal living environments (which I do). Fire safety is an important topic to address.
- Transportation Safety: Is your elderly parent still driving? Is it safe for him/her to do so? So many seniors drive way past the time when they are safe on the road. By the way, if you are dreading this conversation, I have a new Senior Transportation eBook coming soon to help you navigate this sensitive issue.
- Medication Safety: Is your aging parent taking the proper medication dose? Is he following the prescription instructions? Many times, when you have a lot of prescriptions, you forget the “rules” for each prescription. Do a safety check.
- Isolation: While social isolation isn’t necessarily a safety risk, it can be a health risk. Senior isolation has been linked to physical and emotional health problems.
- Diet Safety: Did you know many seniors suffer from malnutrition? Make sure your aging parent is eating regularly healthy meals.
- Financial Safety: Is your aging parent still able to manage his or her own money? If they are suddenly writing big checks to people or organizations you aren’t familiar with, you may need to have a discussion. Of course, this does not give you free reign to make financial decisions for your parents. If they suddenly want to start traveling, it isn’t your place to stop them if your only concern is that they’re not going to leave money for you to inherit (not saying you’re thinking this or would do this, but I’m putting it out there just in case!).
- Emotional Well-Being: Sometimes, if we are depressed, we don’t care for our needs and may take safety risks that we might not do otherwise. Keep an eye on your parent’s mental and emotional health too – it is just as important as physical health.
Of course, I don’t want you to think I’ve assigned you a huge to do list that you’ll never be able to complete. Your aging parents will not go through all of these things at once! Pick one thing to focus on each time you visit and slowly make your way through this safety list. In reality, you should also be watching for some of these safety risks for yourself.