Many seniors prefer to age in the home they know, surrounded by family and familiar items. With home care or home hospice to support them, they can stay home and get the specialized care they may need even when they have medical challenges or are approaching the end of life.
But aging brings challenges, and even our most beloved places can present obstacles or safety issues to our aging loved ones.
Eyesight, hearing, and balance are often affected by age or illness, making navigating the home difficult. Additional challenges such as terminal illness, medications, or dementia can make living at home tricky.
There are steps you can take to make a home – yours or theirs – more supportive of the issues your loved one is facing as they age.
Aging brings changes in vision that can make it more difficult to see. Brightening up the home can make it easier to see steps, furniture, and unexpected hazards. Try adding:
- Brighter lightbulbs
- Additional light fixtures
- Light switches to the top and bottom of stairs and both ends of hallways
- Nightlights in halls, bathrooms, and the kitchen
- Motion sensor lighting in outdoor spaces
Falls often happen in the bathroom when sitting down and standing up or due to wet surfaces. You can make the bathroom safer by:
- Installing grab bars near the toilet and both in and outside the tub or shower
- Putting non-slip strips on the tub or tile
- Removing throw rugs
- Adding a shower seat
- Installing a raised toilet seat
As both mobility and vision change with age, everyday household items can become safety hazards. There are simple steps you can take to make every room in your house safer:
- Add non-slip strips to wood or tile floors
- Make sure carpets are secured in place
- Remove throw rugs
- Arrange furniture against the walls, minimizing the need to navigate around it
- Ensure that furniture is the right height and easy to get in and out of
- Move low coffee tables out of the way
- Tidy up the clutter – objects left on the floor are trip hazards
Pets are part of the family and can be therapeutic, but our little friends can also get underfoot and cause falls. If you have pets, keep a close eye on them around your elderly family member or use pet gates to block off part of the house.
Keeping your loved one with you or in their own home when they need support or end-of-life care may be the best choice for your family but may also present some challenges. The very home that your loved one feels safest in may not be as safe as they think. With some planning and care, you can create a safer environment and make the most of your time together.