Simple Checklist for Adult Children
As the adult children of aging parents, safety is one of your primary concerns. Many adult children are sharing tasks and enlisting services to enable parents to age in their home for as long as possible. There are simple steps that you can take to make sure the house is optimized for aging in place. Here are a few tips room-by-room.
Layout of furniture has the largest impact on usable space in a home. Layouts that may have worked for 30 years may not be the best arrangement for your parents as they age. Editing out large pieces and arranging furniture to create more floor space can make a huge impact on mobility. Walkways should be able to accommodate a wheelchair or mobility device even if one is not needed now. Stop the use of small rugs and secure the edges of large rugs to reduce the risk of falls.
Stairs & Landings should be free of all clutter and well lit. Consider installing auto-sensing lights. Make sure that there is a banister installed and that it is secure. Moving a primary bedroom to the main floor to reduce stair climbing can also be a smart move especially during recovery time after a hospitalization or injury.
Outdoor Spaces should be surveyed for disrepair. Look for crumbling stairs or walkways. Install automated lights to make sure outdoor areas are well lit and the pathway to the mailbox is clear. Make sure that garage doors are easily operated and there is a working sensor to stop motion when its path is blocked.
In the Kitchen, risk of falls and burning can be addressed by clearly marking knobs for the stovetop and oven. Make sure that fire extinguishers are regularly checked and are clearly labeled/accesible in the home. All small rugs should be removed and proper cleaning tools should be readily available for cleaning up spills promptly.
As a family, it is important to create an Emergency Plan. Post emergency numbers for family members in a visible area where aging parents, neighbors, and emergency workers can easily find them. We have a few documents for your reference.
Creating a Reference Binder can be a helpful way to consolidate information and save time by recording important how-to’s for the household, especially if siblings are sharing the load of helping parents age in their homes. Document contact information for vendors such as lawn care, cable, utilities, cleaning services, homecare services, etc. Have a simple record of car maintenance to track when the oil was changed and maintenance was completed. Consider including an emergency sheet that can be easily accessed with a list of doctors and contact numbers, allergies, medications, pharmacy contact numbers, locations and photo copies of health insurance and driver’s licenses.
The Bathroom is one of the most high-risk areas for falls and injuries. Install grab bars around the bathing and toileting areas. Non-slip mats in the bath areas are also a simple way to reduce the risk of falls. Remove any small unsecure mats outside the bath/ shower area. To prevent accidental burns turn the water heater temperature down to 120 degrees.
In the Bedroom area make sure that bedside lights are easily accessed and beds are not too high to prevent accidental falls out of beds. Consider installing a bedside railing to assist with getting in and out of bed.
General Safety: Create a schedule to regularly check and change batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Climbing on high latters can be a huge risk for seniors. Make sure all doors have a deadbolt and have trustworthy neighbors or family members keep an extra set of house and car keys should residents ever get locked out.
If you are living in the Puget Sound, you have Sound Options as an option for homecare. Our certified nursing assistants can really increase safety within the home by providing assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, cooking, running errands, transportation to appointments and events, dementia support and companionship, to name a few. For more service information visit www.SoundOptions.com/homecare.
Published on September 5, 2016.