By Amanda Edens, Community Liaison at Visiting Angels Manassas
It’s time for mom or dad to move in. To say that there will be an adjustment period, is an understatement. Your life is about to change in a major way, and a lot of it will need to happen before they arrive.
They brought you into this world and kept you safe your entire life. Now, your elderly parent needs your help. You’ve both come to terms with the fact that they can no longer live on their own. It’s unsafe for them to be alone all day without any senior home care and they are no longer able to attend to the household duties.
They don’t need the around-the-clock care of a nursing home, but they need something. Maybe you don’t have the money for live in help, or maybe, you’d just rather take care of them yourself.
The elderly are at an increased risk for falls and accidents in the home. Unfortunately, where as you or I may fall and get bruised or a little cut up, when an elderly parent falls, there are risks far beyond this. Broken or fractured hips, internal bleeding, or worse can occur from a simple fall. When it comes to moving an elderly parent into your home and caring for them, prevention is key.
Thankfully, you don’t have to move or throw your life into complete upheaval to accommodate your loved one. You just need to make a few small changes throughout your home.
1. Provide a downstairs bedroom for your elderly parent
This isn’t always possible, but when it is, it’s incredibly useful. If you have a room on the first (ground) floor that can be used as a bedroom (and a full bathroom to go with it), this is best for your parent. Not having to navigate steps on a regular basis will help prevent injuries.
Traveling through the house at night can pose serious risks to your parent and could compromise senior safety. While you may have learned to navigate the rooms in the dark, your elderly parent is new to the home, and impairing their ability to see can cause danger around every turn. Nightlights are an inexpensive way to keep your home well-enough lit through the night so your loved one can move throughout your home safely.
3. Remove Rugs
Elderly individuals often shuffle their feet instead of lifting them with each step. If there are rugs to navigate, they may get a foot caught in the rug and fall. To prevent a fall, considering removing them entirely, or at the very least, use anti-slip pads to keep them from shifting.
4. Install handrails
Poor balance is common among the elderly and it’s helpful for your loved one to have a handrail to grab to steady themselves. These are useful throughout the home, however especially in the bathroom where they must lift themselves onto and off of the toilet, and in the shower which is slippery to begin with. If they will have to use stairs, make sure that the handrails are secure and accessible.
5. Non-slip bottoms for tubs and showers
The tub or shower can be especially dangerous for the elderly. A lack of surefootedness, combined with balance issues, having to stand for extended periods of time, and soap products create danger when bathing. Install gripping mats, safety treads, or non-slip stickers to the bottom of the tub or shower to create traction and limit the danger associated with self care.
6. Clean up clutter
If your home looks like a bomb went off, the risk of slips and falls will be exaggerated. If you have small children or pets in the home, make sure that toys are put away after each play session. Shoes, bags, and other loose items should be stored off of the floor to create a clear path throughout the home.
7. Keep items within reach
Chances are, your elderly parent refuses to completely accept that their mobility and abilities aren’t what they used to be. They still want to do things for themselves, and sometimes, that’s okay. However, if they have to climb, bend, or stretch to reach what they need, it can be dangerous to their safety.
Make sure that items they need in the kitchen are within reach and not stored on a high shelf where they may be tempted to use a chair to get what they want. This will depend on their individual functionality, so find out what they may need on a regular basis and put it low enough for them to get to without help. This is important in the bathroom as well.
8. Use a lower bed
Getting out of bed can be dangerous for everyone, but especially for the elderly. Beds should be adjusted to a proper height according to your parent’s size. When sitting on the side of the bed, feet should touch the floor without stretching.
This will ensure that they can firmly plant their feet on the ground before attempting to stand up. If you already have a bed for the room, and it’s too high, trying removing the box spring to bring it closer to the floor.
9. Consider a medical alert system
You can’t watch your loved one 24-7 and you still have your life to live. A medical alert system that your parent can wear and then push a button for emergency medical attention, can put your mind at ease. This can be great for senior safety even if initially your parent may be reluctant to wear a button.
You’ll be able to continue working, enjoying your family activities, and have some time to yourself because you’ll know that your beloved parent is safe and sound, and help is not far away.
Moving an elderly parent into your home can be extremely stressful. They’ve taken care of you throughout your life and you want to do right by them and keep them as safe and happy as possible. By making these simple tweaks to your home, mom or dad will be comfortable and healthy, and senior safety can be optimized.
Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Editorial Staff