As the American GI generation, silent generation and baby boomer population grows older, more people are finding themselves in the caregiver role. In order for aging parents to avoid living in skilled nursing facilities, many adult children are moving them into their own homes.
Taking on the role of caregiver can be extremely rewarding and equally stressful. Recent studies have found that two thirds of caregivers find it to be a positive experience. However, one in six caregivers noted that the role can be exhausting.
One way you can reduce the stress and work involved with caregiving is to make sure your home is safe for your elderly loved one. There are a number of ways you can improve safety, including steps that can be done today in a matter of minutes.
Safe Access to the Upstairs
If you live in a two-story home the staircase is a serious hazard. Anyone of any age can be gravely injured by a fall down the stairs, but for the elderly even a short fall could lead to broken bones or worse. The first thing to consider is the living arrangements. If there’s a bedroom or office that can be converted downstairs make that the room for your elderly loved one so they can avoid the stairs entirely.
You may want to consider installing a home elevator or stair lift system like EasyClimber if there are no bedrooms on the bottom floor. These systems can be installed along virtually any type of staircase, including ones with curves.
Improve the Lighting
As we age our eyesight begins to weaken. Even people who had perfect 20/20 vision their entire lives may begin to notice that things aren’t as sharp as they used to be. It’s particularly problematic when in poorly lit areas.
Install night lights in your loved ones bedroom, hallways and the bathroom. That way they never have to shuffle around in the dark. You can conserve energy by using LED night lights that have a sensor so they come on only when the other lights are out. SnapPower LED Nigh Lights are a great option because they’re actually an outlet cover plate with a built in light. You’ll get nighttime illumination but still have access to both outlets.
Clap on, clap off lights are another good option for the elderly. Install one in their bedroom so they can easily turn the lights on before they get out of bed.
One more thing you can do to improve illumination during the day is to pull back the curtains. The added natural lighting may be enough to make up for your loved ones limited eyesight.
An easy way to reduce risk of injury among the elderly is to help them get around easier in the home. You can do this by making sure the pathways between rooms are clear of clutter. It also helps to widen the pathways when possible by moving furniture around. If your loved one uses a cane or walker this is particularly important because the devices can easily get snagged and cause a fall.
Another thing to consider is the rugs. Floor coverings are a trip hazard for the elderly. It’s best to remove all rugs from common areas and your loved one’s room.
No-Slip Flooring in the Bathtub
Another area where the flooring matters is the bathroom. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) falls are the leading cause of injury and death among the elderly. The National Institute on Aging has determined that nearly 80 percent of falls happen in the bathroom.
The main culprit is the slippery surfaces. The safest option is to install a walk-in tub or shower. However, this can be an expensive upgrade. The next best thing is to put no-slip rubber mats inside the tub, just outside of the tub and in front of the sink.
Handles and Grab Bars
Balance issues are one reason why the elderly fall. Adding handles and grab bars strategically around the home can give your elderly loved one additional support so that they can balance themselves and avoid a fall.
The bathroom is the first room when handles and grab bars can make a difference. Adding one outside of and within the shower stall will make getting in and out of the tub much safer. You may also want to consider adding handles in the kitchen, your loved ones bedroom and the hallway.
Thanks for suggesting that we have a stairlift installed in our home so the elderly can safely climb the stairs. My granddad is coming to live with us next month because my dad’s sister, whom my granddad was living with before, is moving abroad to work. My granddad has a hard time climbing up the stairs due to his rheumatoid arthritis, so perhaps we could have a stairlift installed since we don’t have any available bedrooms for him downstairs. I’ll talk to my parents about this later. Thanks!