A friend of mine recently became a caregiver and asked me about some important items to address in the home that would help to create a safer environment for her parents. I put together a list of the following tips, which have been broken down by room and topic. These are simple changes and additions that anyone can easily implement in their home to promote the safety of their loved ones.
- Move furniture with sharp corners or edges away from the bed or chair in case of a fall.
- Move any breakable items from nightstands.
- Purchase bedroom lamps with switches that are located on the cord. This provides easier access than having to reach up from the bed in the event of instability.
- No smoking in the bedroom. Ideally – no smoking anywhere in the house. If the person you’re caring for is a smoker, you’ll need to transition them one step at a time. Remember that it’s a big change for them too!
- Install non-skid surfaces in the shower and tub.
- Be sure any bathmats have rubber, non-skid backing.
- Install handrails (grab bars) near the toilet and in the tub and shower. If there is some resistance to this, there are removable ones that can be purchased at any bed or bath shop.
- If there are mobility or transference issues, have a raised toilet installed. There are also high, temporary toilet seats that can be obtained at any surgical supply store.
- Place a magnetic folder on the refrigerator containing any health related information. For example, a list of current medications, doctor’s names and telephone numbers, allergies, health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid ID#, and who to contact in case of an emergency. This folder can easily be transported to the hospital in the case of a medical emergency.
Hallways, Entry Ways:
- Be sure that area rugs are non-skid and the corners are securely attached to the floor. The biggest cause of falls in the home is due to tripping on rugs. You can purchase a four-piece rug gripper set (rug anchors) from places like Home Depot or Amazon.
- Install night lights with light detecting technology that will allow the light to turn itself on when darkness has fallen and shut itself off when the sun rises. This will help provide a safety path for someone should they need to move around the house. The top 8 adult nightlights of 2016 are listed here. Be sure to place nightlights in bedrooms and bathrooms as well.
- Footwear worn in the home should have non-skid soles.
- Non-skid socks should be worn to bed to avoid slipping and falling if they get up in the middle of the night.
General Home Tips
- Purchase a call button system that can alert authorities in the case of an emergency, such as Life Alert or LifeStation.
- Install a security camera in your home that can be accessed from a remote location so you can check in while you’re absent. Many home security systems offer this as an option.
There are so many devices and improvements in technology that can be utilized to help both the caregiver and the one being cared for with some reassurance. Tread lightly when implementing changes, especially ones that can be seen as an invasion of privacy to your loved one. Remember, being a caregiver and becoming the one cared for can be a stressful event. If there is any push-back regarding changes, implement small alterations over a period of time, and ask for help from your loved one in making their home environment safe and sound.
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