Declining health, economic troubles, and other reasons often force aging parents to give up the comfort of their home and move in with their adult children. To safely share a home with an elderly parent, homeowners must consider potential safety issues that may arise. Depending on their health and mobility of the senior family member, the home must undergo a series of minor or major modifications to keep everyone safe and at ease. Here are the most important ones.
Rearrange the furniture
The idea is to make clear paths through every room, without the risk of people running into or tripping over anything. This often means rearranging the furniture to either move more items against the walls or make conversation islands that are easy to navigate. Don’t try to this alone, but ask a family member to help you. You may even discover that some items are extras, so you’ll have to get rid of them to make your living room a safer place.
While rugs add a lot of aesthetics to the space, they may also present a danger to seniors. Their edges may warp up and become a tripping hazard, so no matter how much you enjoy the visual composition of your room, having a rug in the middle isn't worth risking a serious fall. Offer them to friends and loved ones, put them in storage, or use them to up-style your kid's room. If you want to keep a rug in a living room anyways, at least use it so that the edges are kept down by seating furniture at all sides.
Add more lighting
The better the visibility, the lesser the risk of running into things or tripping over furniture. If there is a step in your home's open floor plan, make sure you add low lights to make it visible even if the main lights are off. Lights under your kitchen cabinets are useful for better illuminating the countertops for food preparation. Stick-on tap lights are an easy solution for a lot of spaces that need more light. Any solution you choose, make sure cords are secured from being tripped over.
Protect against fire and electrical shock
Don’t try to repair a ‘buzzing’ switch or flickering light yourself – apart from being dangerous, in countries like Australia, amateur electrical work is even illegal, and may void your home’s insurance. Luckily, there are plenty of great electrician services, especially in and around state capitals, like Brisbane and Sydney. This electrician in Northern Beaches can do a lot to make your home safer for senior family members. In addition to installing smoke alarms to the latest regulation requirements, they can install a safety switch that disconnects the mains within milliseconds, whenever an electrical leak is detected.
Make the bathroom safer
While it may not seem so, for the elderly, bathrooms are the most dangerous room in a home. Bathtub sides are difficult to step over, wet floors pose a constant slipping hazard while getting on and off the toilet can become laborious by itself. By simply installing grab bars strategically around the room, you can make easier for aging parents to keep their balance while going about their business. If your space and budget allow, replace the standard tub with a walk-in model, which you can make even safer with a rubberized non-slip mat.
Make the cabinets more accessible
If you or your family member needs to use a chair or stepladder to reach something, you’re putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Re-organize all the cabinets in your kitchen, bathroom, lobby, and anywhere else and move anything out of reach somewhere lower. If you have to stand on a chair to this, you’re doing it wrong. Alternatively, you should look into other storage and organizational products that can some load off the wall cabinets, such as storage boxes, double-purpose furniture, and stairwell storage. Even if the space looks a bit more cluttered, the convenience of access and increased safety are worth it.
Whether your elderly parents move in with you or choose to age in place to preserve the greatest quality of life, there are things you can do to make their home safer and easier to live in. Make their golden years care-free with these six tips.
By Diana Smith