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Safeguarding homes: tips to help seniors

Posted by Rosalie Radomski on July 6, 2020

Senior woman aging in place safely

The majority of B.C. seniors want to live in their own homes for as long as possible. The good news is, most seniors will achieve this goal. Even at age 85 or older, almost three-quarters (72%) of B.C. seniors still live in their own home. The remainder either live in a retirement residence/assisted living (10%) or a licensed long-term care facility/nursing home (17%). Therefore, safeguarding homes is crucial in helping seniors age in place. As Dr.Bonnie Henry continues to reminds us that home is the safest place to be these days, shouldn’t we all be doing more to keep seniors safely living at home?

Use this safeguarding homes checklist to help make your home as safe as possible for your senior parents or elderly loved ones during this time:

Living Room

  • Non-slip floor surfaces: Flooring companies offer several flooring options best suited for seniors. Carpet, Cork, and vinyl are non-slip and easy to maintain. Non-slip floor surfaces help reduce the risk of falling.
  • Bare floors: Falling is the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Remove as much as possible off the floor like toys, clutter and even throw rugs that could cause a bad fall. Tripping is dangerous, so keep the floor minimalist.
  • Lever-style doorknobs:  Lever-style doorknob handles are much easier to use for seniors with dexterity issues, switch out the circular ones.

Stairs

  • Stair-less entrance: Lifting legs on stairs or threshold can be difficult, so consider installing a ramp instead.
  • Claim your BC tax credit with Modular or removable versions of items like modular ramps and non-fixed bath lifts.

Bathroom Tips

  • Grab bars: Towel racks cannot support an adult’s weight, but too many rely on them to act as grab bars. Instead, install grab bars around the toilet, tub and shower.
  • Toilet seats: Add a raised toilet seat that fit directly on the toilet bowl. This decrease the distance required to sit or stand in order to use the toilet.
  • Tub and Shower: Transfer benches allow you to sit and slide to get in and out of the shower easily. They make the bathtub experience easier.
  • Non-skid mats: Use high-quality, non-skid mats in front of both the sink and the tub. They will not only absorb excess water but also prevent falls.
  • Water temperature controls: In general, 48.89 degrees Celsius is considered to be the magic number for hot water heaters. This is a safe max heat that won’t burn skin. But for some elderly residents this may be considered too hot. Be sure to consult with a physician before changing the temperature on the water heater.
  • Lever-handle faucets: Switch out any rounded sink and shower faucets for lever-handled faucets. They require less hand strength and are easier to use for elderly.

Bedroom

  • Bed rails: Install bed rails to offer support when getting in and out of bed and they help prevent falls too.
  • Dressing aids:  Our caregivers note that health conditions like arthritis and Parkinson’s disease make getting dressed and undressed difficult. Assistive dressing devices like dressing sticks, sock aids and shoe horns can help and are relatively inexpensive.
  • Reacher sticks: Replace step stools with specialty reaching sticks to grab clothing or items on high shelves.

Kitchen

  • Lighting: Install light switches at each entry to improve overall access to visibility, add nightlights to reduce eye strain and install lights over the oven and sink.
  • Garbage disposal: Disconnect the garbage disposal to avoid accidents or install a finger-safe garbage disposal which will run only when the cover is snapped in, keeping hands safe.
  • Automatic shut off ranges: Remove anything that could easily catch fire, like curtains or the paper-towel dispenser, away from the range. Be sure to check if your gas range has an automatic shutoff function.
  • Pull-down shelves: Access contents in deep cabinets and cupboards easily by installing pull-down shelves.

The vast majority of seniors want to remain living in their own home. We hope you found these tips on safeguarding homes useful.

Home support remains a key service that is necessary for many to achieve the goal of aging in place and it is a cost-effective alternative to licensed long-term care. But if you are experiencing challenges with your current home care provider with issues such as service, missed visits, lack of communication, the number of different workers, and the need for more training of staff (especially around dementia), please feel free to give us a call to discuss your needs. Everyone at Serenity Home Care is here to help you.

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