Enabling an ageing parent to remain at home for as long as possible is a great thing. There is a certain level of comfort and security we find in our homes. It is difficult to find the same level of comfort, security and reminiscence in a new environment. Often, people who stay in their own homes can live longer while still remaining happy, healthy and active.
However, none of this is possible without providing a safe environment in which to live. It is very important to conduct a risk assessment in the home and to consider the physical and cognitive needs of our loved ones. As we age, one or more of our senses can dull, which can create safety issues. We can’t feel our feet very well, our ability to assess temperature is not as sharp, we may not be able to easily see risks or we may not be able to smell fire, natural gas or chemicals. To minimise the potential for accidents and incidents in the home, here are some home safety tips for your loved one.
- Remove slip, trip and fall hazards:
These hazards can be everywhere – at home, in the workplace and in public, so it is very important not only to remove them when possible, but to also keep an eye out for them while we are out and about. Falls are the leading cause of injury to older people. Some ways to help your loved one remain safe at home is to make your home “fall Safe” by:
- Removing throw rugs
- Tidying up piles of clutter on the floor
- Installing grab rails in high slip/trip areas (e.g. bathroom, toilet, entry)
- Checking lighting to make sure it is bright enough in doorways, stairs and beside the bed
- Highlighting any steps or slopes which may be a trip hazard to make them easily visible.
- Encouraging the wearing of non-slip footwear (including non-slip slippers) inside the home.
- Keep in contact regularly especially during very hot and very cold weather. It can be hard for older people to realise they are overheating or very cold, so if you cannot visit regularly, you could ask a neighbour or care partner to keep an eye on them. Alert necklaces are also an excellent way to alert Emergency Services in the event of a fall if you are not in regular contact.
- Keep emergency numbers handy and visible to everyone. The important numbers are:
- Emergency Services – 000
- Queensland Poisons Information – 13 11 26
- Emergency contacts (e.g. Family members, friends, neighbours)
- Medical practitioner
- Your local HCA Office
You can even keep these on a sticky note on the back of their mobile phone, or write “ICE” in front of the name in their mobile contact list. ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency” and often people search for that first when the need arises.
Tune in next week for Part 2 of our blog on Staying safe at home.