Getting Older and Household Safety

Getting Older and Household Safety

Tuesday Tips for Caregivers - Safety Tips for the Home of a Loved One with Alzheimer'sGetting Older and Household Safety

As we age, our overall physical health declines, making it harder for some us to perform everyday tasks. Once we reach seventy years of age, we may encounter certain dangers when navigating our home—an environment on which we usually depend for safety and protection. ElderCare at Home will talk about some of the physical limitations that accompany aging and living at home. Activities we perform everyday can pose a serious risk later on in life like walking down the stairs or chopping vegetables. If you have an aging parent or loved one who is experiencing these difficulties, then, fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent injuries at home.

Physical Limitations in the House

If you think about the way your residence (or your loved one’s) is constructed, you may realize that most areas presuppose a moderate level of physical ability. These spaces may include flights of stairs, overhead cabinets, waist-level countertops, and bathtubs. These household spaces can be difficult for aging individuals to use because certain age- and health-related problems can act as hindrances.

When we get older, our agility, bone density, eyesight, flexibility, hearing, and strength all begin to decrease. Depending on how well an individual has taken care of their body over time will determine to what degree these capacities decline. Activities like walking up a flight of stairs could cause a lot of pain to knees and hips; cooking or chopping vegetables may result in injury from declines in dexterity; getting in and out of a bathtub can make balancing more challenging, potentially leading to a fall. The space your loved one once navigated with ease turns into a space with obstacles that can harm them. Thankfully, there are adjustments you and your loved one can make to the house to avoid injuries and to facilitate certain activities.

What to Do

The main thing to keep in mind is what your loved one can do to rearrange their house to reduce the likelihood of falling—one of the biggest concerns for aging individuals. Some suggestions are:

  • Provide enough space to walk: The more room there is in your loved one’s house, the lower the chances they have to trip on something. You can help your loved one rearrange furniture and household items so that they remain out of the way.
  • Make sure hazardous areas are not wet: Such hazardous areas include the kitchen or the bathroom floor, areas that have a higher likelihood of becoming slippery. A way around this is either to have mats or carpets in those areas or to buy comfortable footwear that has a slip-proof soles.
  • Install handrails/seat in the bathroom: Handrails or a shower seat will provide support in potentially slippery environments. Built-in shower seats are also an alternative to changing your bathtub into a walk in shower—which may be costly.
  • Handrails: Having handrails on any flight of stairs you have will provide more support for balance and to alleviate any strain from walking up the stairs.
  • Chair lift for stairs: If you or your loved one has a lot of difficulty going up and down stairs, then a chair lift is a great solution, although it may be costly. Certain companies may allow the option to pay in installments so you can finance your chair lift purchase more easily.
  • Rearrange household to make it more accessible: If you know that you or your loved one uses items very frequently around the house, then it is a good idea to place these items in locations that are easily accessible. This strategy will prevent an aging individual from straining to get something if it is stored in an area that is too high or too low.
  • Countertops that are accessible: If your loved one has trouble standing when they are in the kitchen or in general, then it will be helpful to have lower countertops so they can sit. If they can stand, then buying a padded mat, perhaps, can make standing less harsh on joints.[1] [2]

Adjusting your home will take some brainstorming, money, and physical help. Although it may be overwhelming to think about, finding the appropriate resources and answers will help you make informed decisions. If you have any questions about what you can do, call ElderCare at Home at 800-285-0093 or you can visit our website.

[1] Source: https://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/homesafety/01.html

[2] Source: http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-2014/caregiving-home-safety-modifications-ginzler.html