Health & Fitness

Steps to Make Your Home Safe for Older Adults

The number of older adults in the world is always increasing, thanks to advances in healthcare and general improvements to living conditions. One of the realities of becoming an older adult is the need for assistance and sometimes supervision. There are plenty of ways people address this need such as moving their parents or older relatives into senior living facilities. However, some people either can’t afford to live at such a facility full time, or they would rather stay in a private dwelling.

According to a recent study, almost 32 percent of adults in the United States, including older adults and senior citizens, are living in shared households.

If you are anticipating a parent or an older relative moving into your house or if you plan on moving into a shared property to better take care of them, here are a few things you need to consider if you want to prepare properly.

1. Consider Assisted Living

Before you commit to moving in with an older relative or having them move in with you, you should discuss with them if they would prefer assisted living. This doesn’t necessarily mean transplanting them into a retirement facility. You could look for affordable home health agencies to check in on your older relative or you could hire a full-time nurse and companion to assist them.

According to a survey of older adults, a large number would prefer to go into assisted living. As many as 30 percent of older adults said they would like to go into assisted living or living with an assistant in their own home rather than move in with a family member. So have a conversation with your older relative on their preferences before committing to having them move in with you.

2. Reduce the Risk for Falls

Once you are sure that moving in with them is the best or most practical course of action, your first order of duty is assessing the number of falling and tripping hazards on the premises. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than a quarter of older adults suffer from falls every year. This may not seem so severe but falls and trips can be extremely dangerous to older adults given their conditions.

As many as 800,000 people who suffer falls and trips will be hospitalized, especially from the head or hip injuries. Common tripping and falling hazards include stairs, electrical cords, and carpets.

Go over your entire home and make sure the risks are addressed, by moving them out of the way or reducing them through non-skid strips on steps.

3. Keep Track of Medications

Older adults sometimes require a lot of medication both to stay healthy or to keep medical conditions at bay. If you are moving in with an older adult, you must clearly label and monitor these medications.

One of the best ways you can solve this is to designate a medicine cabinet for older adults. This means they won’t be confused about where their medication is and accidentally take someone else’s. If you don’t want to frantically look up the side effects of Nyquil on older adults, try using locks or similar methods to ensure they don’t take more medication than necessary.

You should also frequently check the expiration dates of any medicine in the house as you do not want these spoiled substances endangering their health.

4. Use Monitoring Devices

Unless you can commit to looking after your older relative full-time, you will need to use some form of monitoring device to ensure they are safe without you around. You need to inform your older relative on what sorts of measures you are employing for their own good.

For example, if they are prone to sleepwalking or wandering about at night, you should use motion-activated sensors and night cameras so you could be made aware if they leave the safety of their room or even the house when you are asleep. You may also want to give them an active way to communicate with you in case they need assistance.

A smartphone can seem like a good choice, but they are complicated and could be more of a hindrance. Devices like Life Alerts and radios can be more helpful in this regard. 

It’s a difficult but necessary choice to have an older relative such as a parent move in with you for their well-being. Follow the tips above to help make their stay as safe and as comfortable for them as possible.

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