Deciding to have a senior stay in your residence can be a monumental decision that requires a lot of planning and consideration before you commit. Elderly people often have unforeseen medical complications and require assistance in getting daily tasks completed. Before you decide to take on the responsibility of taking care of an elderly relative or friend, consider the following ways your house may not be prepared to accommodate their specific needs.
The kitchen is a location that sees a lot of action, whether it’s preparing food, eating meals together, crafting projects, paying bills, or reading a book. With so much going on, it can be easy to overlook the dangers that may exist in your kitchen for an elderly person. They could easily slip and fall, burn themselves, start a fire, or microwave something they should not. For these reasons, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure your kitchen is senior proof. The first step is conducting an audit of your current kitchen layout and determining the risk factors in every corner.
Remove low hanging dish towels or other flammable items that are nearby stove tops, along with any melt-able plastics or metals that could be unintentionally heated up. Make sure curtains are an appropriate length as well. Seniors should be encouraged to wear long sleeves when cooking anything on the stove top that has excess amount of grease, otherwise they should wear short sleeves or roll up their sleeves in most instances. Make sure that you have a working smoke detector installed not only within your kitchen but through the rest of the house as well. You can also minimize the possible damage from a fire by equipping your kitchen with an easy-to-operate fire extinguisher. You can go over the instructions with your family and your senior so that everyone can operate it in an emergency. Have good lighting available in your kitchen, especially near dangerous appliances and cutlery. And as always, keep your cutlery properly stored.
Having food properly labeled and dangerous chemicals safely stored is a priority for any household with residents that are elderly or infants. Make sure your fridge is kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure nothing expires quickly. Seniors can develop memory related cognitive impairments, so check and double check expiration dates on all your foods to make sure they are not going to ingest something they’ve left in the fridge for too long.
Tile flooring can be especially dangerous in certain parts of the house where water may be spilled. For example, the entryway from the backyard if you have a pool, the kitchen, the bathroom etc… These could all easily be places where a senior could take a slip and fall. In the kitchen, you’ll want to have mats over your tiled floor, and keep any common items available on lower cupboards. Especially in front of the sink, you’ll want to have some sort of non-skid mat to prevent falling hazards. Throughout the house you’ll have to conduct an inspection to see if there are any protruding surfaces or obstacles that could possibly lead to your senior falling. Common areas for this include entrances inside and outside, doorways, the top and bottom of flights of stairs, and any areas with poor lighting. Speaking of, you may need to install motion sensitive night lights along any paths that the senior may take at night.
The bathrooms in your house may pose the most significant risk for elderly persons in your home. Seniors often have trouble stepping in and out of showers/baths, so you’ll have to consider whether you should renovate your bathroom. These renovations could include changing your shower to be non-step, installing a no-slip mat on the floor of the shower, installing grip handles and more. Bathtubs can also be modified to create a safer way to enter and exit. Seniors may need extra room to maneuver around comfortably, and if they require assistance with undressing, bathing, or using the toilet, your bathroom will need to be able to accommodate two. If your senior uses a wheelchair to get around, this could involve even further renovations.
Bathrooms pose a difficulty for homeowners because making renovations involves carefully working around pipes and pressure valves. If you are considering installing a grab bar to help your senior get up and sit down safely, realize that it will legally have to support a large amount of weight, from 250-300 pounds.
Stairs can be the next most dangerous portion of the household for seniors to navigate If your senior is wheelchair bound or needs help walking, then you will have to consider installing a chair lift or elevator in your household. These types of appliances can be costly to install and maintain. The average cost for motorized chair lift can be $3,000 to $5,000, while an elevator can cost upwards of $20,000. If this is out of the question, then you will have to make sure your stairs have no loose planks or bumps and that they are well lit.
It is possible to pay for these kinds of renovations and make these lifestyle changes on your own, but it’s impossible to know for sure if your elderly person will become more difficult to accommodate over time. They could also require the help of a live-in nurse or other skilled caregiver. If your senior requires around the clock care, they may find life in a senior living facility preferable. It can be tough to determine what the best type of care is for your loved ones. While there are many different types of cares options for seniors, two of the most prevalent are skilled nursing and assisted living.
When you or your loved ones are ready to take the next step and find a senior living community that’s right for them, look no further. Landmark Senior Living offers assisted living, independent living, memory care and more. At Landmark, you are ensuring that your loved ones are in the best hands for the care they need.
About The Author
COO @ Landmark Senior Living
Matt Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer at Landmark Senior Living, a series of top rated Assisted Living Facilities in the Midwestern United States. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years and graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude. Guided by a relentless pursuit of excellence, Matthew and the team at Landmark are dedicated to creating a supportive environment for the elderly.