Sep 11, 2015 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
As a family caregiver, one of your primary goals within your elderly care plan for your aging loved ones is to keep them safe and secure. Most injuries occur within the household, which means it is critical to find ways you can modify the home to improve safety and eliminate common hazards that can cause severe injury. Keep in mind that elderly adults are more prone to injury than younger adults, and have a much more difficult time recovering. This means that what a younger adult would consider a minor incident could result in hospitalization, an extensive recovery period, and vulnerability to other health concerns in an older adult.
One area that many caregivers overlook when making safety modifications to the home is the living room. Focusing on areas that pose more obvious hazards, such as the kitchen and bathroom, are important, but it can also cause you to miss potentially serious dangers that your parents encounter on a daily basis. They spend a considerable amount of time in the living room, so paying attention to the challenges that they might face in the room is a valuable step in creating a safer, more comfortable, and most independence-fostering home environment for them.
Use these tips, and share them with your aging loved ones' elderly health care services provider, to create a safer, more secure living room:
• Eliminate cords. Not only are excess cords unsightly, but they can also pose a serious tripping hazard. Try to rearrange the electronics in the living room to minimize the space between the device and the electrical outlet so that the cords are contained in as small a space as possible. If this is not an option, secure the cords as close to the wall as possible using electrical tape. Avoid letting any cords cross doorways or walkways, and replace the tape as often as needed to ensure the cords stay securely in place. To reduce fire hazards, minimize the number of cords you plug into any one outlet and secure multiple cords with Velcro straps to keep them organized.
• Arrange furniture. Too much furniture in the room can present impact hazards and make navigating the space more challenging, especially for those seniors who require mobility aids such as walkers, scooters, or wheelchairs to get around. Minimize the amount of furniture in the space without sacrificing livability, and arrange it carefully to promote easy walkways throughout the space.
• Clear the floor. Many seniors have much shorter, lower steps than younger adults, meaning they are at a much higher risk of tripping. Clear the floor of obstacles that may cause them to trip, such as runners, rugs, and decorative items. Make sure that the carpeting is in good condition and does not have worn patches that can catch your parents' feet and cause tripping.
• Keep things secure. Seniors with mobility issues or balance problems frequently use items around them for help with balancing and moving throughout a space. This can be dangerous when those items are not secure, such as rolling chairs, lightweight furniture, or loose table lamps. Eliminate these items or find reliable ways to secure them in place so they do not move if your parents attempt to use them for additional balance.