Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Safety At Home Is The Number One Priority For Aging Adults

Safety is the number one factor seniors and their caregivers face when hoping to live within their homes instead of moving into nursing homes or assisted living facilities.  There are a number of safety items that can help to ensure a seniors safety as the age in place.  Handicap construction contractors can be hired to come into a home and revamp obstacles known to cause injury or harm to older adults.  Simple bathroom safety aides, handicap wheel chair ramps and room renovations can ensure the safest possible environment, within their homes, for seniors to age in place. 

As adults age little accommodations should be done to keep up with their changing needs.  This preemptive effort will alleviate a complete over haul and will allow the senior to feel more at ease with the changes occurring to them.  If caregivers come in and completely over take a home it is liable to cause a sense of uneasiness that can be avoided.  Below is a list of things to begin looking at as a caregiver of seniors approaching their golden years.

                The most common injury reported with senior citizens is from falls.  In order to prevent the most common falls it is important to address issues that arise due to flooring.  It is important that all rugs, runners and mats are removed from the home.  Some people recommend using sticky tape and slip-resistant backings however the safest home improvement for seniors is to remove them all together.
                It is important that caregivers take a detailed look at the bathroom when thinking about the safety of loved ones.  Seniors living on their own will need to take care of all of their hygiene needs.  With this in mind it is important that the space is user friendly.  First check that bathtubs and showers are equipped with bath seats and non-skid bath mats.  The tub surface becomes slick when wet and soapy which could easily result in a fall.

                Bathroom safety aides can be purchased for all areas within the space.  Grab bars should be in place within the shower and around the toilet area.  Another suggestion that helps many seniors is the addition of a high rise toilet seat.  This makes getting up from a seated position more comfortable on the knees and other joints.  Also, turn the water temperature down to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

                The kitchen is an area that concerns many caregivers.  There are many obstacles within the space.  It is important to prevent fires.  Ensure towels and combustibles are kept a distance away from stoves.  Place a sign with big bold letters exiting the kitchen to remind seniors to double check the stove to make sure it is off and that everything within the kitchen is back into the proper space.
                It is important to start the shift of everyday items into the lower shelves.  This eliminates the risk seniors take on when using a stool to grab something overhead.  Utensils and cooking aides should be kept within reach. The kitchen is a scary place for seniors.  It may be that eventually the caregiver sees fit to provide prepackaged food to be warmed in a microwave in disposable containers.  This alleviates the preparation of meals, use of the stove and utensils.  

Living Rooms:
                Chances are that most of your loved ones time will be spent in the family room.  Create an open environment that wheelchairs and walkers can navigate with ease. Check cords to make sure they are tucked in against walls and away from areas that they could become tangled within senior’s feet, wheelchairs and walkers.

·         Check to make sure lighting is adequate throughout the home and that light switches are easily accessible.
·          Telephones should be in every room of the house.  Another aspect to think about is a cell phone small enough that can be placed in a pocket to be carried with them.
·         Medication should be clearly labeled and accessible.  Label containers with clear instruction.

Aging is the one thing all people have in common.  Clearly we will get older.  It is important to remember that as we age we will want to be treated with respect as our caregivers prepare us for our aging needs.  Not all seniors we go smoothly, renovating their homes.  Many feel they are just fine and totally capable of living as they have been.  As caregivers we understand as they age their needs will change.  Age in place remodeling should be done in a very caring, supportive and non invasive manner.  This will help keep a healthy balance to the wants and needs of aging adults.  

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