Safety Considerations and Home Modifications
If your loved one is moving in with you or into a new independent space, it’s a smart move to “elder-proof” the house to make it safer for an aging adult. Not only can taking these steps and making modifications prevent nasty accidents, it will also make life a lot easier and more comfortable for them.
Some fixes are easy and inexpensive — grab bars in the bathroom and nonslip mats under throw rugs, for example. If they’re less mobile and your home has stairs, you may decide to put in a more expensive ramp or stair-lift. And all sorts of devices — from easy-opening door handles to walk-in bathtubs — are available to make their life in your home much more manageable.
Here are some other safety and comfort improvements you may want to consider:
|Modification or Device||How It Helps|
|PersonalEmergency Response System||If you’re going to be out a lot and worry about your loved one being alone, you can sign them up for a personal emergency response system, or PERS. These medical alert systems enable an older adult to summon emergency help with the push of a button. A live operator at an emergency response center will respond to the call, sending a paramedic or ambulance, if necessary, or, if it’s a minor problem, contacting you or a neighbor to check in on them.|
|Walk-In Tubs or Showers||The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for seniors due to its hard, slick surfaces. Showers and bathtubs that require a high step to get in or out can increase the risk of falls for seniors. Consider installing a walk-in tub or walk-in shower that make it easier for your loved one to get in and out safely.|
|Door and Window Sensors||If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease and tends to wander off, you may need either special door locks that will keep doors shut or chimes to alert you to their attempts to leave the house. Window sensors with remote alarms are also available.|
|Accessible Shelving||As people get older, the simple act of bending down or reaching up can become an ordeal. If possible, put extra shelves in closets, pantries, or cabinets at heights an older adult can reach without a struggle. If they’re in a wheelchair, or you anticipate they may be soon, adjustable brackets will enable you to change the height as needed.|
|TV Silencer||For older adults with hearing problems, this device automatically mutes the TV, stereo, or DVD player whenever the phone rings, so they won’t miss important calls.|