As a caregiver to a senior, you have an incredibly important job: keeping them safe and cared for. They likely don’t want to give up their sense of independence, so be prepared to face some resistance. It can be hard for them to make changes at home that signify that they’re getting older. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not still energetic and vibrant! All it means is that, with the changes you help implement, it’s going to be safer for them to get around and live more of the life they want to live. Whether they’re living on their own, with someone else, in an independent living community, senior living community, or retirement community, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind to ensure their space is as safe as possible.
Keep pathways clear
This means decluttering, removing furniture that won’t allow a walker to fit through, and making sure wires and cords don’t find their way into their walking space. There should be more than enough room so that they have clear pathways through the home.
Keep seniors moving
An independent living community, senior living community, and retirement community will typically have different exercise and socialization programs for their residents, so encourage the senior to partake. Not only will it allow them to get exercise and improve their balance and coordination, but it will also help them make new friends. If they live on their own or with someone, it’s equally as important to make sure they safely exercise and keep moving. It will be great for their body and mind.
Prepare your phone
Preparing their phone isn’t just about putting emergency numbers where they can see them. It’s vital that you put the phone where they can reach it in an emergency, and make sure that the buttons on it are big enough. If they live in an independent living community or retirement community, these safety features will likely already be in place, but you should always make sure their phone is close enough to the edge of a table’s surface so if they should fall, they can pull the phone down and be able to use it.
Set up the bathroom
There are so many safety tips you can implement into their bathroom that won’t take away from the style of it, but that will certainly help make them feel more secure and balanced. For example, you can elevate the toilet seat by putting in a commode chair or you can get toilet safety rails. You can change the tub to one that’s walk-in, install shower bars, put in a bathtub grab bar, and get a shower chair. Many of these items may be covered – at least in part – by their insurance company.
Light up the home
Nighttime can be dangerous for seniors, especially if they get up one or more times during the night to use the bathroom. Motion sensor hallway lights can be a big asset, and you should also put light switches where they’re easily accessible. All areas of the home, especially hallways and bedrooms, need proper lighting to allow them to see clearly.
Make sure rugs are secure
At an independent living community or a retirement community, the flooring will typically be set up in an ideal way for seniors, but if the senior you’re caring for is living on their own, you’re going to have to make sure to get it in place. This means that rugs on stairs and in hallways should be nailed down and area rugs should never be at the top or bottom of stairs. Throw rugs can also curl up or fold, so it’s best to get rid of them, but you can replace them with mats or rugs that have non-slip backing.
Consider medical alert options
There are a slew of medical alert options out there, and they come in the form of a watch or necklace so it’s something the senior can easily carry around. There’s an annual or monthly charge, but it’s a small price to pay for safety, especially if they’re living on their own. It’s one of the best safety tips to implement that can help both you and the senior you’re caring for feel secure regardless of where they are in the home.
Even if the senior lives in an independent living community or a retirement community, you should make sure that their space is tailored to their specific lifestyle. Make sure to discuss the aforementioned safety tips with them and let them know that you aren’t restricting their independence, but allowing them to have more of it in a way that increases their security and improves their daily life.