If a loved one wants to live at home but are beginning to show signs that they may be struggling to manage with the house in its current state it is worth considering starting to add modifications to the house to make it easier and safer for them to continue completing everyday tasks. The last thing anyone wants is an accident to occur and they have to move into a care home so reducing the risk of this happening is vital. Below are 7 tips on how to improve the accessibility and safety of a home.
1. Remove fall hazards:
Slips and falls are one of the main reasons as to why elderly people are injured at home, to make matters worse, bone breaks/ fractures in older citizens are more likely to occur and take longer to recover. Removing trip hazards such as rugs and wires instantly makes it safer on days when they are feeling fatigued and are not fully focused on what's below them.
Creating an organised, open environment will also make it safer. Bumping into objects will be less likely and any objects on the floor will stand out more, further reducing the likelihood of tripping over things. For people with mobility issues it is also important to allow space for any equipment needed to help them move such as a wheelchair or walking frames.
2. Keep emergency numbers accessible:
Have a basic phone within arms reach of regular sitting spots in the house and create pre-sets for emergency numbers in the phone and name clearly. In an emergency situation this can prove vital.
3. Fire Protection:
Removing as many fire hazards as possible is another step to be taken in making a home more safe. Regular tests of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should take place and electrical appliances should be checked for faulty wires or damage.
Space heaters and candles are a lot more dangerous than traditional central heating so if possible should be avoided, if that is not possible then keep them away from curtains and other flammable materials and put them on timers so they automatically switch off if. This is even more important if you sleep with space heater in the bedroom.
4. Improving bathroom safety:
The bathroom is a higher risk room for slips and falls due to fact it is going to wet, however there are many ways to reduce this risk. A starting point is installing support bars in the shower and by the toilet, putting down rubber mats and setting a limit on the water heater to reduce the chances of burns. A more substantial change could be replacing the bathtub to a walk-in style with seating inside to allow them to sit whilst washing. Installing night lights from the bedroom to the bathroom is also recommended in case the toilet needs to be used during the night.
5. Improving bedroom safety
Changing out an old mattress to a firmer one will provide greater comfort and support as well and making it easier to get out the bed in the morning or at night.
Depending on the needs of the person, consider changing the door handle to levers rather than knobs as these are less difficult to open.
6. Improving kitchen safety
For many seniors, the kitchen becomes a place where they spend a lot of time, and so making it as user friendly as possible needs to be done. Move regularly used ingredients and equipment to easy to reach places, preferably in drawers and cupboards below head height. If this is not possible purchase a sturdy stool to stop them from stretching for items.
Changing the taps to lever handles will make controlling water flow and heat easier as well.
7. Keeping safe in the home
Once the house has the new safety features installed it is important to make sure they have the information to stay safe from other people. Installing security cameras and alarms can act as a deterrent for criminals. Also leaving notes on the inside of the front door reminding them not to open the door to strangers will reduce the risk of home invasions. Ensure that they do not give out personal information over the phone to people claiming they are calling from a bank, broadband provider etc. If they are unsure get them to call themselves and ask if this was a legitimate call.
Together these pieces of advice should produce a safe and accessible home for your elderly relative to live in.