If you live away from your senior parents, it stands to reason that you may have concerns about their safety and security at home. But a few simple, quick, and efficient upgrades can enhance home care for the elderly without compromising their comfort. It’s ideal to consult with your parents first and take into account their preferences for likely changes before following through. These 16 tips should help get you started right away.
Secure the entryway
The entry point of a house is an important space that often gets overlooked. Here, you can install a video doorbell with easy-to-use two-way communication features. The device will let your parents see who is at the front door and have a conversation to confirm their identity, as it broadcasts a live image as soon as the doorbell rings. The simple push-to-talk interface is a convenient, inexpensive security feature that offers invaluable peace of mind!
Upgrade the front door
Check to see if the front door is easy to access. Your parents should not have a hard time trying to open a heavy door or struggle walking down a narrow entry. If you feel the doorway needs to be widened, consider this upgrade first before making any other changes. The extra wide doorway is also suitable for special walking assists and wheelchairs to pass through if needed. Also, if your parents have trouble using regular knobs, consider switching those out with simple straight handles. You can even add custom grips to the handles so they don’t have to exert too much force while opening and shutting the door multiple times. These small upgrades lower the risk of your parents spraining their wrists or hurting their fingers if their hand slips. Most importantly, consider switching to heavy-duty locks and deadbolts that are easy to operate and secure the main door properly.
Redesign the walking path
Next, you can focus on the path from the driveway to the main door. If there are stairs that lead up to the front door, ensure you have handrails installed for additional support. Install ramps wherever possible, instead of stairs, so your parents don’t have to struggle walking up or down. Ramps also enable the elderly to use their motorized scooters to get around the yard and front driveway. These upgrades will improve overall safety. If possible, look into hiring a gardener to ensure the weeds in the lawn or the pathway are trimmed once in a while.
Install a home security system
There’s no such thing as too much security when it comes to at-home care for your elderly parents. You can consider motion sensor lights synced to a wireless security camera setup for the front door. This way, the occupants will be alerted of any movement and can check who is visiting without walking all the way up to the door. You can walk your parents through using premium home security systems that are easy to operate to improve safety outside of the home. Motion-detecting cameras, floodlights, and even intruder alert systems can be synced to their smartphones using a dedicated app. These apps and security systems come with SOS features that alert the nearest emergency personnel for assistance at the press of a button.
Move around some of the furniture
When it comes to at-home changes to care for the elderly, you cannot ignore the issue of clutter. Help your parents make some adjustments to the living room and bedroom layout to remove as much clutter as possible. You don’t have to completely replace their favorite furniture. But try to move it around so space is freed up to keep walking paths clear and accessible. If an object has sentimental value, try to find a dedicated storage space for it away from the primary rooms. These simple yet carefully made changes to the home can help make it a better space for your senior parents.
If accessibility is an issue, even the simplest of tasks can become troublesome. For example, elderly parents who are dealing with joint and bone problems may not be able to reach up to the items on the top shelf in the kitchen. However, there are simple, workable solutions and upgrades that can make these shelves easily accessible without having to overhaul the entire unit. Changing the height, adding sliding doors, and simple locks are all remodeling options that improve safety and accessibility. Additionally, if there are power cords and any plumbing running through odd spaces that increase the risk of a fall, consider concealing these installations as well. Also, with advancing age, seniors could struggle with their vision. So, the areas that are generally dimly lit need adequate lighting for better visibility and accessibility.
Improve the lighting around staircases
Improved accessibility brings a related point to the fore: improved lighting in specific areas. For example, your parents might have eye conditions, such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration, that make navigating across the uneven ground a challenge. In the case of split-level homes, even if they don’t use the staircase frequently, ensure the area is well-lit so they can move without tripping on the first step. If your parents rent out a portion of the house, discuss moving their private rooms to the ground floor of the home so they don’t have to repeatedly use the stairs.
Make the staircases accessible
You can even upgrade the safety measures around staircases without having to renovate the complete unit. Start with adding handrails that are easy to grip and provide sturdy support while using the staircase. Further, you can install an anti-slip tape for the individual steps to provide an extra layer of traction. This way, nobody trips or slips accidentally due to a lack of friction and grip. You can DIY these small upgrades by simply buying a roll, measuring the step length, and cutting out equal strips for each step. These tapes are also available for the entire length of the handrail, so there is an added layer of safety there as well.
Considering adding a stair lift
If your parents have mobility issues, you can look into getting a seated stair lift installed. This step for at-home care for the elderly will be especially useful if they have recently undergone surgery since it can be jarring to have to get used to the new adjustments required. The motorized seats in a stairlift move at a steady pace and are quite user-friendly as they are operated with a single throttle knob located in a convenient position.
Fix all loose carpeting
One of the main concerns when making the home safe for your senior parents is any loose carpets and rugs that can become a potential slip-and-slide hazard. If the carpets cannot be removed, anchoring them lowers the risk of anybody tripping and falling. Also, consider adding non-slip rug pads wherever the floor is slippery, be it in the common area or near the washroom. These provide extra friction and prevent the rug from sliding forward or backward, thus lowering the risk of a fall.
Install support bars in the washroom
Several health conditions may force your parents to get up multiple times at night to use the washroom, such as incontinence or UTI. So, install handrails near common washroom areas and the sink, which ensure they don’t slip due to wet floors or grogginess. Also, it is vital to select handrails carefully, as the bar may be dangerous if it has sharp edges, leading to the possibility of cuts and scrapes.
Consider overall lighting upgrades
Experts recommend having light switches installed no higher than 48 inches from the ground level. This is the ideal height for seniors who struggle with joint and bone problems. The limited range of motion and flexibility will not be a major issue with this upgrade, helping lessen frustration over simple tasks. Also, consider replacing toggle switches with rocker switches. Rocker switches boast a wider surface area, are quite easy to use, and require very little pressure to operate. More importantly, make the change from only central lights to lamps and pendant lights in all corners of the room to help with visibility and brighten the mood in the room.
Replace old appliances
Old appliances spell bad news for everyone, regardless of age. So, you must upgrade to the newer models that also come with auto shut-off technology and other built-in safety features. It’s possible your parents might forget to turn off the coffee maker or the oven, and it’s never safe to leave these appliances plugged into an active outlet. The automatic shut-off feature is available across many of the common appliances used in the kitchen, so check for it when buying new items. It pays to have this extra precaution in place so there’s no cause for concern as they go about their regular day.
Be prepared for emergencies
Sometimes, your parents may need a helping hand for errands, or they may need support in case of emergencies. In either scenario, it can be reassuring for them to have the contact number of a friend or acquaintance who can drop in on short notice. Even if your parents notify emergency services, it’s still a good idea to have a backup by calling someone who can manage the situation until you arrive. A known face amid an emergency can also help boost morale. Also, having a landline backup at home with speed dials set in for the emergency services is a good idea. Have these numbers printed in a large font, get the sheet laminated, and paste it on the wall just above the landline phone to save time and effort in urgent scenarios.
Discuss the idea of hiring at-home help first
Elderly parents may get agitated if their routine is suddenly changed or when they are taken out of their comfort zone. This is especially important to consider for someone who is suffering from a chronic illness or has recently undergone surgery requiring hands-on care. Thus, you must always start with small steps when introducing any change. Take the time to discuss your parents’ wants and needs, consider their age, and give them the benefit of the doubt before trying to introduce new changes. Furthermore, discuss a plan of action with them in advance to make the most of at-home elder care services.
Consider professional full-time or part-time caregivers
It is advisable to consider hiring full-time or part-time help to facilitate some of the tasks in and around the house. There are many agencies and organizations that employ caregivers on call to provide at-home care for the elderly. Caregivers provide encouragement and help boost the morale of elderly people, providing nursing services and companionship as well as home assistance for seniors. For example, if you are a resident of Tulsa, OK, then you can search for at-home senior care services or home health care in Tulsa using the online classifieds finder tool listed on official hospital websites. It is very easy to find quality at-home elderly care using a specific location or searching for “live-in caregivers near me.” Or if you live in Montana, Cornerstone Caregivers rank among the top agencies to provide specialized home care for the elderly.
You can further suggest your parents join rotary groups, hobby clubs, or other classes to stay occupied. Let them also take charge of their routine to boost their self-esteem and be ready for the times when you might not be around to help manage their affairs. This way, aging parents develop a sense of responsibility for their well-being and also have a trusted circle to depend on. Don’t wear yourself out trying to manage everything; set up a well-functioning support system to ensure your parents live their golden years happily and fruitfully.