There are several small adjustments and modifications you can make to a loved one or parent’s home to help protect them from falls and fires, both of which cause thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Here are some tips to get you started.
Eliminate Tripping Hazards
Since falls are the leading cause of home injury among seniors, a good place to start is to pack away throw rugs which are common tripping hazards or use carpet tacks or double-sided tape to secure them. You may also need to adjust furniture so there are clear pathways to walk through and position any electrical or phone cords along walls and out of the way.
For hardwood steps, consider attaching a nonslip tread to each one to provide traction and help them see the edge. And for added protection in the bathroom buy some nonskid rugs for the floors and use adhesive nonslip treads or a mat with rubber suction inside the tub or shower stall.
Good lighting is essential for safe aging-in-place, so check the wattage ratings on lamps and light fixtures, and install the brightest bulbs allowed, and add supplementary lighting if necessary.
You should also purchase some dusk to dawn nightlights for the bathroom and in the hallways that light up when the sun goes down. And mount some motion sensor lights outside the front and back doors and in the driveway that automatically come on when someone comes and goes after dark.
Get Grab Bars
These can significantly reduce his risk of bathroom falls. Install them where they enter the shower or tub and on a wall inside the stall, but don’t use grab bars that attach with suction. Instead, have wall-mounted bars put in by someone who can affix them to the wall studs. It’s also best to choose bars whose surfaces are slightly textured and easier to grip.
Ensure Railings are Stable
Wherever there are steps – stairways, entryways, or basements – there needs to be truly Saturday railings. Ideally, they should be on both sides of the steps.
Prevent Cooking Fires
There are several affordable products you can purchase to help prevent home cooking fires like BurnerAlert discs that attach to a stove’s knob and will continuously blink or beep after the stove has been in use for a preset amount of time, and Ome smart knobs that can control a stove’s heating settings from an app. Or you can invest in a more expensive iGuardStove sensor that shuts the stove off when it doesn’t detect motion for five minutes.
Install Smoke Alarm
Install a smart smoke alarm on each floor of the home that will alert the resident when smoke or carbon monoxide is detected. These smart devices will also send alerts to another person’s phone to let them know when a problem is detected. Google Nest and First Alert both smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Add Fire Extinguishers
Get portable multipurpose fire extinguishers for each level of the home and in the garage.
Consider a Medical Alert
To ensure safety and provide you some peace of mind, consider getting them a medical alert device that comes with a wearable SOS button that would allow them to call for help if they were to fall or need assistance.
For more tips, geta copy of AARP’s HomeFit Guide, which has more than 100 aging-in-place suggestions that can help make their home safer and easier to live in.
Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.