If you have older parents who continue living independently at home, their safety is likely one of your prominent concerns. Although a house doesn’t seem like it would be a dangerous place, you’ll discover that several hidden risks are present in everyday situations when taking a closer look.
All it takes is a slip on the kitchen floor or a stumble on an uneven threshold to create the conditions for a trip or fall. Even poor lighting or clutter could contribute to these issues.
That’s why home technology investment is one of the best ways to support your aging parents. From GPS trackers that help to locate those who wander with their dementia to a fall alert monitoring system, several modification options can support their ongoing needs.
How to Make the Home Safer for Older Adults
The goal for a home with aging parents should be to create a safe and functional space. Here are some ways that you can make this happen.
1. Get help from an occupational therapist.
Everyone has unique physical needs that must get met. Having a professional assessment of your parent’s home can let you know what modifications are needed now – and what is necessary for the future. It’s easy to forget that aging is a progression that requires ongoing improvements.
2. Take care of the low-cost items immediately.
Some home modifications are relatively inexpensive to complete. Your parents might need pull bars instead of cabinet knobs in the kitchen and bathroom. They might want to grab bars in the shower, night lights along the stairs, or brighter lighting throughout the home. Even something simple, like removing an area rug that could be a trip hazard, can help everyone stay safer.
A few modifications might need some professional help, such as lowering the kitchen counters or installing a wheelchair ramp.
3. Reduce glare levels in the home.
Although it is nice to have a lot of natural light come into the home, the sunshine glare can cause potential problems. As we get older, some sensory loss can happen. If your parents have vision health concerns, you’ll want to keep the walls a light, glare-free color to create beneficial lighting schemes.
It might be necessary to install more lighting fixtures, especially when direct tasks are involved. If you can cover the light bulbs, you’ll help to reduce any glare that tries to develop.
4. Eliminate all of the clutter.
When you can allow for more space in each room, you’ll have fewer risks of a stumble that could cause an injury. If there is unnecessary furniture around, consider having it go to another family member, sold at a garage sale, or donated to someone in need. When you keep what you need now and get rid of the rest, your parents will have more uninhibited space to enjoy.
5. Add smart locks and alarm systems.
Aging parents don’t have ways to respond to emergencies today as they did in the past when they were younger. When a smart lock gets installed on each door, people with mobility issues have more confidence because they’ll feel safer in their homes. A standard product can lock or unlock using a smartphone app, and some models even respond to voice commands today.
If you want something even more sophisticated, home monitoring systems can turn the lights on or off based on a person’s presence in each room. You can even set up security cameras that enable two-way communication so that you can always check-in with them.
6. Create a first-floor laundry area.
If your older parents have mobility issues, asking them to travel stairs with clothing isn’t a viable option. That means you’ll want a laundry room on the ground floor. It also helps to have a first-floor bedroom available to avoid injury. This option might not be possible in some homes, which means a major modification, such as a chair lift or an elevator, might become necessary to meet current and future needs.
7. Install new light switches.
Instead of using the traditional toggles, consider installing a new light switch with a rocker-style to it. They’re much easier for older adults to operate because they require less effort to use. These upgrades can apply to other areas of the home, ranging from thermostat control to plumbing systems.
Most aging parents want to stay at home for as long as possible. When you can help them modify their environment to remain safe and secure, that independence means more than you’ll probably ever know.