Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: What can I do to make sure Mom is safe in her home?
A: Keeping the home environment safe is a topic I discuss frequently with senior clients and their adult children. Most seniors want to remain at home and maintain their independence as long as they possibly can. To help them do this, I start with a home visit — to assess the surroundings and ensure they have the needed tools in place to stay at home successfully.
Come along with me on a virtual walk through a typical living area. What do you notice? Are you walking around or stepping over furniture? If so, move some of the furniture and clear a path to walk. Those throw rugs? They might also cause a fall. Are there books, shoes, blankets or other objects on the floor that might make someone trip? What about dangling or snaking cords from phones, lamps or computers? Secure those as well. Let’s look at the stairs. Any of the steps loose, broken or uneven? Same goes for inspecting the handrails.
Now let’s check the lighting. Are there burned out light bulbs that need replacing? Closets and cupboards are great storage tools, as long as needed items are placed within reach and not too high. Using a step stool? Let’s double check to make sure it’s sturdy.
As we move to the bathrooms, it’s important to check that the shower and /or tub surfaces are not slippery. If they are, install a non-skid mat or self-stick strips. Are there grab bars in the bathroom? They help not only in the tub, but also near the toilet. Speaking of which, if the toilets seem low, a toilet extender can help.
In addition to considerations for the home, here are some other items for your senior safety plan. Regular exercise will increase your strength, balance and coordination. Meet with your pharmacist quarterly and review your list of medications. Have your vision checked once a year. I always suggest (particularly for those living alone), a personal alert device with fall detection. Do you have some type of “notification plan” with a neighbor? Perhaps they watch to make sure your porch light turns off each morning or your newspaper is taken in. A deviation will prompt them to check on you.
Want to learn more about home safety strategies for seniors? Join us November 11th for Senior Health Friday with Nurse Lisa when our experts discuss how to age safely at home.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.