If you have an aging parent or loved one, you might be apprehensive about leaving them alone in their own home.
If they are disabled or have a cognitive impairment, it can be an especially anxious decision. After all, the home can be a hazardous environment full of hidden dangers.
It’s important to look out for these four common hazards when preparing to leave an aging or disabled parent home alone:
Household Hazard #1: The Bathtub
Few homes are equipped with bathtubs that are easy for seniors to get into and out of.
Because bathtubs are often slippery, seniors with limited mobility are especially at risk for falling and injuring themselves during bath time.
This hazard is especially concerning if your parent is going to be at home alone when they bathe or shower.
There are a few ways to help make your aging loved one’s shower or bathtub less hazardous for them:
- Install secure bars in convenient spots to assist them when getting into or out of the shower
- Install or purchase in-shower seating so that they can rest while bathing themselves
- Install a non-slip mat on the bottom of the shower to prevent falls when your loved one is entering or leaving the shower
- Place shower products (shampoo, soap, body wash, cloths, loofas) within a reachable distance from the shower chair
It’s also important to place a reachable telephone somewhere within the vicinity of the bathtub.
If your parent can reach the telephone, they can call for help if they fall or need assistance.
Household Hazard #2: Rugs
Falls around the home are another major concern for the aging population and their loved ones.
While rugs are great for decoration and adding dimension to a space, they can also create tripping hazards for vulnerable seniors.
Here are some tips for eliminating the risk of tripping associated with rugs in the home:
- Don’t place rugs in the path of the bathroom (a study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that a large percentage of falls occurred when seniors tripped over a rug while hurrying to the bathroom)
- Remove rugs in places where your aging loved one is most likely to make multiple trips throughout the day (the paths to the bathroom and kitchen should be clear of rugs)
- Eliminate rugs that have fringed, curled or frayed edges.
Household Hazard #3: Darkness
Another household threat to your aging loved one is inadequate lighting.
For seniors who are already vision impaired, too little light in the home can create multiple tripping hazards.
Even if you plan on having someone available to sit with your loved one during the nighttime, storms or overcast skies can also cause a dangerous amount of darkness inside a home during daylight hours.
It’s important to place easily accessible lights in all rooms of your loved one’s home.
Installing long pull-chains on ceiling lights can make it easy for your loved one to activate a light without getting up. Lamps with foot switches are also easy for seniors to activate without much effort.
Household Hazard #4: The Kitchen
The kitchen poses multiple hazards for seniors, especially those with diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia or with physical disabilities.
Disabling the stove during hours when your loved one is at home alone is advisable, especially if you worry that your loved one will try to cook or use the oven.
If your loved one is able to use the stove or oven on their own, minimize fire hazards by moving paper towels, regular towels, or cutlery away from the stove area.
Is It Time to Choose a Homecare Provider?
Safe-proofing your aging loved one’s home can be a time commitment and a stressor.
If you’re worried that your loved one isn’t safe living alone, it might time to seek the help of an in-home care provider.
Bluebird Homecare knows how worrisome it can be to leave mom or dad home alone, even when you’ve tried to remove hazards and create a safe environment for them.
If you’d like a professional caregiver to provide supervision, support, or companionship for your loved one, Bluebird’s team is second to none.
Contact Bluebird Homecare to learn more about our services and how we can help restore peace of mind to you and your family.