Apr 2, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
Working Together to Make Your Home 'Senior-Safe'
Having an in-home caregiver, for many seniors, is like having a best friend who visits every day and always helps with household chores. While the central purpose of your caregiver's visits may be your health and wellbeing, on the vast majority of days where you're feeling fine and only need a little extra help around the house, your caregiver's role becomes friend and companion.
Of course, you have to have something to do together to fill the long hours, and there's only so much television you can watch or hands of Gin Rummy you can play in a row. This is why seniors and their caregivers often plan and embark on shared projects like crafts, gardening, or sorting and organizing your impressive collection of photos and keepsakes. But who says your shared activities can't also be useful?
Senior Safety in the Home
The longer you live in a home, the less likely it becomes that you will re-think out it is arranged and, more importantly, how safe it is for you to traverse the floors. Most seniors live in a home saw it's last furniture rearranging before the kids moved out and it hasn't been considered since. Sound familiar? If your space hasn't changed since you retired, then it's probably time to take a long thought about senior safety procedures.
The fact of the matter is that as you get older, even if you're still quite stable most of the time, the consequences of a fall become much more severe. A single lost cat toy or buckled throw rug under your feet could mean an unpleasant trip to the hospital that no one wants. The tenants of senior home safety have three major factors: clean floors, wide paths, and grab bars. Fortunately, your caregiver can help you with all three.
Devising a Safety Project With Your Caregiver
Most senior-caregiver teams develop a fun system of working together to achieve shared goals. Seniors may pitch in for light and seated tasks while caregivers have a great time running around, moving things, and doing all the lifting and carrying that is no longer practical for their senior client. You can use this natural workflow again to completely rethink mobility safety in your home. Join heads together with your caregiver to put together an ideal senior safety plan for your home. Perhaps the most important thing to plan is where the furniture will go. If you want to visualize before you start, consider graph paper or a free floor planning site which can be fun to work on together.
Clearing the Floors
Once your plan is devised, and you're ready to act, the first step should always be the floors. It's time to pick up everything including throw rugs, welcome mats, and other things that normally belong on the floor. Sweep, mop, and dry hard floors and thoroughly vacuum carpets. Start shifting furniture to clear out everything underneath so that no hidden grandchild or pet toys are lurking under there for later hazards.
Arranging the Furniture
Once the floors are clean from baseboard to baseboard, it's time to enact your floorplan. Work with your caregiver to get your existing furniture into an arrangement that much more defines wide, straight walking paths and ideally includes a few natural safety features. One of the best ways to create a very safe walkway is to move the couch forward about three feet from the wall. This way, the couch back can act as a soft handrail.
Installing Grab Bars
Speaking of handrails, the final step is to install a collection of sturdy grab bars in your home. Where you put them, how many you install, and if you install any at all is your choice, but it's best to consider a few key locations. One in the kitchen is a good idea because counters are notoriously sharp or slippery.
Bathrooms traditionally have one or two by the toilet and another to help get in and out of the tub or shower. An extra grab bar by any stairs is always helpful, and one by the bed can help with your morning routine. Caregivers can help you install grab bars with a few quick turns of a handheld power drill.
Comfort Keepers is available at all times of the day to hear out any questions or concerns regarding what you can do to make your home safe for your senior. When you turn redesigning your home for safety into a fun activity with your caregiver, not only do you have a direct hand in your own safety precautions, you also have a great way to spend a few days or weeks together trying out furniture arrangements and playing with the floor plan design app. For more great ideas on interactive caregiving activities and senior safety, contact us today at 732-369-3639.