Soon the cooler temperatures will be upon us and we will be spending more time indoors. Now is the time to take inventory of our homes and the homes of those who we care for to be sure they are safe from dangers like falling.
For seniors living with dementia making sure the home is a safe haven is a must. Here are some things to consider for everyone, not just those with mental health challenges:
- Are there rugs or runners that someone could easily trip on? Do they need to be secured to prevent slipping?
- Are stairways safe? Hardwood stairs can be slippery for anyone let alone a senior who is unstable on their feet. Also make sure handrails are secure to prevent the user from losing balance.
- Can the person living in the home safely use electric appliances in the kitchen?
- What is the temperature of the hot water heater? Hot water is great but scalding water is a danger!
- Does the homeowner need grab bars or other safety implements such as elevated toilet seats or non-slip tub grips. For those with disabilities, is everything within reach?
- Check expiry dates on medicines, and food items. Now is the time to make sure everything is up to date. The senior generation likes to stock up on food items but if the freezer or fridge is full of expired products that sale they got is no longer a deal!
- Can the individual safely drive a vehicle? Being independent with ones own transportation can be a vital component to a senior living on their own. For those with a physical handicap, is a vehicle modification required to enable them to navigate the roads safely on their own. There are a few companies who specialize in this and funding may be available.
- Inspect mattresses and pillows for wear. How many people do you know who are sleeping on mattresses over 15 years old? And pillows too! Many complaints of aches and pains can be remedied with a new mattress or pillow.
- Fire/ Emergency Plan: Is there a fire escape plan? It’s better to have a plan and possibly a packed bag of urgent items like one set of medication among a change of clothing and grooming items.
Some areas of the home may be more hazardous than others. Basements and garages may be an area of concern especially for those seniors who have hobbies and may not be as capable as they once were. Make sure lighting is adequate in all areas of the home but especially in basements and garages. If someone is a wood worker for instance and has difficulty using power tools, try to find a safer way for him or her to enjoy their hobby, such as sanding or painting instead.
Home health care stores are packed with items to make living at home easier for those with physical challenges. The hit this summer is a cane that has a built-in stand that allows it to stand upright on its own when not in use. It has been flying off the retail shelves this summer! Consider looking into home modifications to allow the homeowner to live on their own as long as possible. There are sources of funding available to those who qualify.
Lastly make sure the senior in your life is drinking enough water each day. Water is essential to keep the brain hydrated! 1 – 2 litres of water is required daily.