For most of us home means comfort and familiarity, but for seniors it also needs to mean safety and accessibility. We support seniors in remaining in the comfort of their home by making sure it is a safe environment by conducting a Home Safety Evaluation. You may think your loved one’s home is plenty safe, but it is easy to overlook everyday items.
Andrew Carlson, Managing Partner of Home Care Partners, and his family have experienced how important it is to have a safe environment for aging in place. Andrew’s grandfather lived independently in his home and he had family caregivers that helped to support him during his stages of health decline. He had Huntington’s disease, which is a form of Dementia that impacts mobility and balance. As many of us do in our homes that we are comfortable in, he woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and didn’t have enough light to see a tripping hazard. Unfortunately a familiar walk through the home that he had done countless times before resulted in tripping and falling this time. The fall cracked multiple ribs and he had to be taken to the hospital. The situation quickly turned worse when he developed pneumonia and had a lengthy hospital stay. Unfortunately passed away from this injury. A few years later, in the same home, his grandmother had a fall that resulted in her health decline, a short stay in a skilled nursing facility, and she also was not able to recover from her injury from her fall.
Andrew’s parents were in a situation that you may be familiar with. They were caring for their aging parents, raising their children and started welcoming grandchildren into their family, and they were trying to balance their business and their careers. Although these losses were a heartbreaking experience for Andrew and his family, they were very influential in his decision to form a company that provides the care needed to help other families remain safe. Andrew and Karla Frese started Home Care Partners and made it a priority to provide clients a Home Safety Evaluation.
Our evaluation reviews each room to assess and make recommendations that help maintain safety and independence. Many times accessibility is a huge factor in deciding whether or not it is safe for a loved one to stay or return home. For example, does the entrance have stairs, hand railings, or a video doorbell? Navigating stairs is always a risky situation for a senior, especially if there isn’t a hand railing to hold onto. It is best to bypass the stairs and install a ramp for easy, safe access. A video doorbell is also a helpful tool to install. With this technology your loved one does not need to get up and run to the door to see who it is. From their couch they can decide if they need to answer it or unlock the door using technology for an expected visitor.
The next part of the home evaluation is to review how safe and easy it is for your loved one to complete daily activities in their living spaces. We recommend creative and safe solutions to overcome obstacles. Simple risk reductions can be achieved by “moving” items to a more practical place that fits your current abilities, such as moving a microwave from above to the counter so your loved one isn’t working above their head with hot food. This is the same for dishes and clothing racks; everything should be at an accessible level and not above their head. Additionally, consider implementing extra lighting throughout the home that detects motion and turns on, removing rugs that are a slip hazard, and having chairs in various areas for your loved one to use if they need a break rather than attempting to make it back to the living room.
The most important area to evaluate is the bathroom. Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury and deaths worldwide and often take place in the bathroom. There are a number of items to review in the bathroom, but a few to focus on to alleviate the risk of falling are grab bars around the toilet and in the shower, shower chairs or transfer benches, zero or minimal threshold into the shower, and a Toilevator which adds 3.5” in height to an existing toilet. All of these items and others help make the bathroom a safer place and easier to access.
This list is a great starting point for a self-review of your home’s safety. Call us today at 402-780-1211 or click here to schedule a Home Safety Evaluation for a comprehensive review of your loved one’s safety at home. We look forward to being a part of your team to help provide a safe environment and caregiving services for your peace of mind.