Keeping a senior’s home environment safe is paramount as he or she ages in place. We naturally think about building a ramp to the front door, renovating the bathroom so the shower is a walk-in, adding a shower chair, or removing rugs.
But here are some other ideas to consider as well. Many senior adults begin to lose muscle strength, particularly in their legs (some of the largest muscles in the body). That makes it more difficult to stand from a seated position. Having a riser or toilet safety rails makes a big difference in comfortably and safely rising from the toilet.
Raising your arms over your head may be another difficult movement for the elderly. That may make hanging clothes in the closet almost impossible, or even dangerous for someone with balance issues. An easy fix is to install a hanging closet rod from the fixed rod; this allows the clothing to hang at a comfortable height. Also, check for items on upper shelves that your family member might need to have moved to a lower, and safer, area. Reaching tools are also available that might help.
Opening items becomes a struggle for some, either because fingers are so painful from arthritis, or the strength and dexterity to open a box or a can just isn’t there. Does your parent need to have things opened (the screw-top on a nutritional supplement, the “zip-top” on a container from the deli, a gallon jug of distilled water for a CPAP machine?) Is there an electric can opener available instead of the twist type? Is a microwave at counter height instead of at eye-level (microwaves mounted over the stove are harder to open for an elderly person, plus it could be dangerous to remove hot food)? Check the coffee maker—if it’s one that has to be filled from the top, can he or she safely lift enough water to do that? If not, a single-cup brewer might be an option.
At FootPrints Home Care, our caregivers help provide the care needed to allow an elderly person to remain at home. From assistance with toileting, showing and dressing; meal preparation and seeing that medications are taken; to companionship and help getting to appointments, we serve seniors across the central region of New Mexico with non-medical home care. If we can serve you or your family, please give us a call.