here are many minor changes that can be made to a home to make it safer for the elderly. These changes are mainly designed around the two most notable changes that occur as we become elderly, the first is the danger of falling caused by decreased mobility, and the second is accidents that occur because of forgetfulness that often develops as we age.
If it is your responsibility to provide a safe home for an elderly person, it is important to look at the home with those two things in mind. The threat of falling is a major concern and is usually a result of poor vision, poor balance, or decreased mobility. Accidents, especially fires are a major concern when planning for the safety of an elderly person. Below is a list of changes that can and should be implemented in any home that an elderly person resides in.
1. Stairways – Besides the bathtub, the stairway is the most dangerous and likely place for falls. Whenever possible, keep the elderly person safe on one floor. Find a room on the first floor that will make a suitable bedroom.
2. Bright lights – replace low watt bulbs with higher watt bulbs and make sure that light sources are placed to where walking paths are completely illuminated. Of utmost importance is to place lights at the top and bottom of stairs and install a double switch which can turn on those lights from either the top or bottom of the stairs.
3. Unclutter – remove small furniture from the home, anything that moves location frequently should be exchanged for more permanent furniture. This includes things like magazing holders or small tables that are frequently moved around. Similar to a blind person, it is important for the elderly person to always know where everything is.
4. Pets – While great for therapy, they are notorious for causing falls. Whenever possible, keep them out of the home
5. Throw rugs – Remove any floor covering that is not fastened directly to the floor. This includes mats in the kitchen.
6. Wet areas – Any areas that become wet should be covered with non-slick mats that are attached to the floor and won´t come up
7. Auto-shutoff appliances – Whenever possible, things like coffee-makers and other cooking appliances should have an automatic shutoff after a certain length of time
8. Bedroom – A light and phone should be located within easy reach of the bed.
9 Discourage candles and smoking – These are both leading causes of fires in homes of the elderly
This is not a complete list of things that can be done. The best way to make the house safe for the elderly is to spend time walking around in it, especially at night and pretend you have limited vision and mobility.