Many homes, while filled with memories and familiarity, can present numerous safety hazards that might compromise the well-being of an elderly individual. Our team’s senior care services are often enlisted by elderly individuals who strongly wish to continue to age in place, in their own homes, despite health concerns. In such cases, it becomes crucial to identify potential dangers according to each individual’s conditions, including cognitive decline or dementia, mobility issues, or vision problems. Identifying these hazards, understanding their risks, rectifying them, and engaging support, like a geriatric care manager, are pivotal steps in ensuring a secure living environment.
Spotting potential safety hazards involves a thorough assessment of the living space. Some common hazards include:
Tripping Hazards: Loose rugs, cluttered pathways, and uneven flooring.
Poor Lighting: Insufficiently lit areas, especially in hallways, staircases, and bathrooms.
Bathroom Risks: Slippery floors, lack of grab bars, and inaccessible showers or tubs.
Kitchen Dangers: Unsafe appliances, hard-to-reach items, expired foods, and slippery or cluttered countertops.
Medication Storage: Improperly stored medications or expired drugs.
Inadequate Security Measures: Lack of handrails, unstable furniture, or missing smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.
These hazards can pose serious risks to an elderly person's safety. Falls, burns, medication mismanagement, and other accidents can lead to severe injuries, hospitalizations, or a decline in overall health.
Getting an expert pair of eyes to assess any potential hazards and create a plan to rectify them, making the home environment as safe as possible and giving you peace of mind, is highly recommended as most people tend to miss many of the less obvious or less common problems. Some of the simpler and more common modifications include:
Removing Clutter: Clear pathways and secure loose rugs or cables.
Improving Lighting: Install brighter bulbs, nightlights, and motion sensor lights.
Bathroom Modifications: Add grab bars, non-slip mats, and consider walk-in showers or bath aids.
Kitchen Accessibility: Rearrange items for easy access and ensure appliances are in working order.
Medication Organization: Sort and properly label medications, disposing of expired ones.
Enhanced Security: Install handrails, secure furniture, and maintain smoke/CO detectors.
Smart Technology: Installing voice-activated commands to help seniors call for help if needed.
Cleaning: Hiring someone or scheduling a friend or relative to stop by and take our the trash and throw out expired items periodically.
Now, for some guidelines to addressing these hazards with the elderly person:
--> Do not use a judgmental tone when pointing out problems that need to be remedied.
--> Approach this conversation with empathy and understanding.
--> Bring them into the conversation by asking them if they’ve noticed or had issues with these particular hazards in the past.
--> Focus on their well-being and independence – ask them if they would let you help.
--> Emphasize that these modifications aim to enhance their safety and comfort while maintaining their autonomy. You want to help make their home a safer place so they can continue to safely live there as independently as possible and on their own terms.
Remember, the goal is not just to create a safe environment but also to preserve the dignity and freedom of those we care for in their golden years.
Because geriatric care managers specialize in assessing and managing the needs of elderly individuals, they can conduct comprehensive home safety assessments, coordinate necessary modifications, and develop personalized care plans. Their expertise ensures a holistic approach, addressing not only safety but also the emotional and medical needs of the individual.
Safeguarding an elderly loved one's home involves vigilant identification of hazards, swift rectification, and compassionate communication. Engaging a geriatric care management team (like Senior Steps!) streamlines this process, ensuring a secure living space that promotes independence and well-being.
If you would like to inquire about our services (confidentially and always free of charge), contact us at the phone number above this article or by filling out the short form at seniorsteps.org/book-online.