This guest post was written by Barrie Smith and is an important look at how safe seniors are in their own home. You can read more about Barrie at the bottom of this article.
Looking after an elderly person takes careful planning and increased consideration for their safety and well-being is important to think about. Below is a short article highlighting some of the important things you need to look at in the home to make it an easy, comfortable and safe environment for an elderly relative or friend to live in.
By the time we reach our 80’s or 90’s the main activities in the house will be sleeping, resting and personal hygiene. This might seem obvious but you then need to think about how is this person going to go to sleep? Can the person get up the stairs easily or do they need a stair lift.
When it comes to personal hygiene we need to think about how accessible the bathroom and toilet facilities are to the person. Can they get in and out of the bath? Do they need extra support whilst on the toilet? If they do need more support install a support rail next to the toilet. If the person has restrictive movement you should also consider a bath lift. A shower is generally more accessible than a bath as you can simply walk into it. Should the person be unable to walk you can even buy powered tilt shower chairs.
In addition to the person being able to access the actual rooms and facilities one also has to remember that the person has to be able to access the house. This may mean building ramps to enter the front door. You may even have to consider an alternative mode of transport which can accommodate a wheelchair.
Planning any home should take safety into consideration. The potential threats come from slippery surfaces, inaccessible cupboards, faulty appliances, and lose furniture and fittings. When you are preparing the house think about things from a different perspective. For example, could a frail 80 year old access a high cupboard above a fridge freeze.
You should also look at removing anything that might be a trip hazard. Make sure the carpet is in good repair. Look at buying non-slip material. This is very handy for putting on trays, under cups and even under rugs that are on slippery surfaces.
In the kitchen you should provide an easily accessible fire blanket just in case there is a frying pan fire. Also put fire extinguishers around the house. You should take time to make sure the elderly person, or their carer, knows how to use these devices.
As the elderly are very vulnerable and prone to accidents you should consider installing an emergency call system or alarm. If the person has a carer, think about providing some sort of pager or alarm that will alert the carer.
You should also get gas appliances checked every year to make sure there are no carbon monoxide leaks. Just to make sure you have this covered install a carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the gas appliances. You should also have a separate or combined smoke/carbon monoxide detector. This will warn the homeowner if they have accidently burned something dry.
Linked to safety is security in the home. People need to feel safe in their home and this can be achieved by adding good window and door locks. The front door should also have a dead lock rather than a latch as these locks are harder to pick. For added security add a peep hole to provide a fish eyes view of who is outside the door. Don’t forget to take into account the person’s height. It’s not wise to put the peep hole at 5’ 8” if the person is only 5’. Another good idea is to add a door chain. This will prevent an assailant try entering the house even if the door is opened.
Every house should be comfortable. Make sure that at least one room is always warm and well insulated. The elderly cannot regulate their body temperature as well as younger people so they are prone to hyperthermia.
Make sure the kitchen is fitted out with mobility devises that will help the person open cans, clean up, and prepare food. You can get all sorts of gadgets such as electronic can openers, special knives, and non-slip cutting boards.
Also look at giving the person extra support when relaxing. You can get foot and leg rests as well as furniture raisers. All these devises help the elderly become more comfortable in their own home.
Step 1: Access
- Check that the house is accessible.
- Provide supports to allow the person to access the shower and toilet facilities.
- Build ramps and install stair lifts where required.
Step 2: Safety
- Make sure everyday items are easily accessible.
- Remove any trip hazards.
- Check that electrical appliances are not faulty.
- Provide fire extinguishers and fire blankets.
- Provide an emergency alarm or call system
Step 3: Security
- Install dead locks
- Install a door chain on the front door
Step 4: Comfort
- Provide mobility aids such as electric can openers and non-slip cutting boards.
- Provide foot and leg rests
- Install furniture raisers
Article written by Barrie from Oakhouse Foods – delivering delicious meals on wheels to your home.