As aging parents grow older, they can face increasing challenges related to activities of daily living. For instance, driving may have been a second-nature activity for their entire adult lives, but with advanced age it may no longer be feasible. Other routine activities such as taking medication or preparing food may also need to be curtailed.
Understandably, the loss of independence can be devastating for an aging parent. One way adult children can boost a continued sense of autonomy despite elder challenges, is to help their aging parents live independently in their homes for as long as reasonably possible.
The most important consideration, however, is to make sure they can do so safely.
Identifying and eliminating potential safety hazards will be key. As physical challenges increase due to diminished balance and strength, elderly persons become more prone to falling. So those nice throw rugs may need to be thrown out, for example.
Here are additional points to consider:
- Clear hallways, stairways, and doorways of any clutter.
- Put additional lighting throughout the home. Plug-in nightlights are also helpful.
- Tidy-up or get rid of messy electric cords.
- Repair loose carpeting and raised flooring.
- Switch-out door knobs for lever-handles.
- Remove locks from bedroom and bathroom doors.
Taking extra care in securing bathrooms is also highly recommended. With narrow spaces and slippery surfaces, it’s a good idea to install shower and toilet grab bars. Adhesive friction pads on the shower floor, a medically approved bathing chair, and a lowered hot water thermostat temperature are also excellent ways to further protect against falls and scalding burns.
Other important safety measures can include installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, removing small and low furniture, eliminating throw rugs, and applying non-slip wax to floors. Making kitchen modifications may also be in order. For example, stoves and ovens with automatic turn-off features are ideal. Hanging an accessible, easy to use fire extinguisher is also a good idea, as is configuring refrigerator shelving to prominently display frequently used food and beverage items.
When contacting businesses for home repair services, make sure to seek referrals from credible individuals or elder care organizations. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who may try to take advantage of vulnerable seniors, so make sure to stay involved. Don’t let your aging parent sign any contracts without your help, and monitor all repair work.