Safety in the Home – Easy Fixes to Ensure your Elderly Loved Ones are Safer in Their Home
Part 1- Approaches and Entrances
As the population is ageing, or so we are informed, more of us have loved ones and relatives who wish to live independently in their own home. This can cause concerns for us if our loved ones have reduced mobility or reduced senses, however, with a bit of forethought and planning we can help to ensure independent living is not only feasible but of a quality that we would all like ourselves. Here are a few easy fixes and tips to assist our elderly loved ones and relatives to safely access and egress their home.
Getting into the Home
Ensure that all the paths and driveways are in good condition, this could mean simply clearing leaves and garden debris, trimming overhanging plants and making sure any drainage covers are level and not uneven causing a slip hazard. Flat level paving is the easiest to access so consider replacing that gravel or chippings as these can prove quite a challenge for those with reduced mobility, remember how difficult it is walking on a pebbled beach.
Grass can cause problems too especially when wet or if a walking aid is required an inexpensive path can be made using paving slabs.
For paths a good idea is to use contrasting colours to define the edges if poor eyesight is a problem, this can be done with plants or flowers to keep things looking pleasant.
Ensure there is good lighting over paths and especially parking areas and over the front door, this will not only make entering the home easier but will assist with security and help instil a feeling of safety for our loved ones.
Any steps that have to be negotiated to enter the house should be inspected for any damage and repaired. Consider replacing steps with overhanging edges, sometimes referred to as noses, as these can be hazardous for elderly loved ones and relatives. Remember steps, especially those made of concrete, can become slippery when wet, anti slip tape, a wide sticky tape with a sandpaper like surface, is widely available and can be fixed to steps or any area that can become slippery when wet. Any tape that is fitted should be regularly inspected for signs of wear or lack of adhesion.
Grab rails around the front door are widely used to help with the entering the house, but consider the position , are they at the most convenient height? Do they need to be a different colour to help those with reduced eyesight? Does the position of any grab rails hinder access to locks? These are questions that need to be asked when having grab rails fitted, remember everyone’s needs are different and a bit of time investment at the fitting stage will make life so much easier for your elderly loved ones.
Using locks and handles on front doors can be problematic for those who have dexterity problems, however, there are many products available to assist with this.
Key turners – These are products designed to attach to one end of a key and are similar to a plastic handle to make it easier to turn. Look for ones with a textured handle for easy grip and ones with a space for the key to fold into when not in use.
Rubber lock and Handle covers – These are simply covers that slip over existing handle to make it easier to grip and operate, these are widely available in different styles and colours , easy to fit and fairly inexpensive.
Remote Locking systems – These, as the name suggests, are locking systems similar to the remote control locks on cars. They can be operated remotely when approaching a door and used to secure the door once inside. There are a few systems available in the market place, however, they are quite expensive to fit.
There are obviously lots of ways to help our elderly loved ones and relatives to live a fulfilling independent life and I hope these easy tips and fixes have given pause for thought. In further articles I will look at some ideas for inside the home such as lighting, electrical safety and assistance with bathing and other household tasks.