'Tis the season for slips and falls! Icy sidewalks, snowy paths..... and inside the house?
Here is a check list of safety precautions for the older members of the family. If your frail elderly mother is moving in with you, or Grandad is coming to stay it is a good idea to go through the house and check for hazards and add a few safety features before they come.
Front path and steps
- Make sure that the paths to the house are even, no major cracks, roots or rocks.
- Keep steps and paths clear of snow and ice.
- Check the stairs - no holes or uneven concrete.
- Hand rails, both sides if possible.
- Path and front entrance well lit. Movement-detector lights work well.
Entrance, Hallways and Stairs
- Declutter - make sure that shoes are put away and outdoor clothes hung up. If there are children, teach them to put their toys away.
- Lighting - halls and stairs should be well lit. A night light in the hall between bedroom and bathroom is vital.
- Take up any loose mats that could be a tripping hazard.
- Check that stair rails are secure.
- No loose mats or rugs
- Make room around the bed, especially if your elderly Mom or Dad uses a walker.
- Have an easy to reach lamp by the bed. If it is awkward to reach the lamp, a sound activated ("clap-on - clap-off") lamp will help.
- A phone beside the bed.
- For folks stiff with arthritis or others who may feel light-headed when they first stand up, a bed assist handle is a great help in preventing falls.
- Again, keep the area around the bed as clutter-free as possible.
- Where possible install wall bars at the end (tap end) of the bathtub and one on the far wall. A wall bar beside the toilet may also help.
- Some all in one piece, preformed tub surrounds should not have wall bars added. Clamp-on tub grips, or a floor-to-ceiling pole next to the tub can be used.
- Use non-slip mats in the tub or shower.
- A tub or shower stool is useful for those with poor balance.
- Any medications should be clearly marked. A dosette or blister pack will make it easy to keep track that the medications are taken as prescribed.
- Remove loose rugs and mats
- Make sure that there is room for a walker if one is used - coffee tables often have to be moved out of the way.
- Avoid rocking/swivelling chairs
- Loose electrical cords are a tripping hazard. Route them away from traffic areas where possible, or use duct tape to fix them to the floor.
- A portable telephone is safer than a fixed phone. Many falls occur when people are rushing to answer the phone. Keep the handset nearby at all times, putting it back in its charger beside the bed overnight.
- Have good lighting, easy to reach switches.
- Make sure that essential utensils are easy to reach
- Use a sturdy step stool to reach higher cupboards
- Have a smoke alarm and be sure to check the batteries regularly
- If your older person has fairly severe memory loss, it may be necessary to limit their cooking or even unplug the stove.
- See that any spills are quickly wiped up.
This may all seem quite overwhelming, but most homes need only a few adjustments. After all, some simple precautions could save a broken hip or worse.
Gillian is the proud grandmother of two 9 year olds and a new grandbaby boy. For more grandparenting ideas, you can visit her website: http://www.grandparentscafe.com
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