Safety Check of Your Aging Parent’s Home
If you are the adult child of a parent in his or her Golden Years, you intuitively understand that as your mother or father ages, they become more vulnerable to a whole host of different safety risks. Moreover, if they are injured, the consequences can be most significant than would be the case even 10 years ago. With all of this in mind, you are wise to partner with your parent to undertake a safety check of his or her home.
Part of the safety check of your parent’s home is to be aware of potential so-called hidden hazards that might exist at the premises. These include:
- Electrical issues
- Heating and cooling system issues
- Plumbing issues.
Other elements of a safety check at your aging parent’s home needs to take other aspects of the residence into consideration. These are:
- Railings, banisters, and grab bars
There are some less obvious electrical issues that need to be addressed during a safety check of your parent’s home. As part of a thorough safety check of your parent’s home, when it comes to electrical issues, the inspection should include:
- Make sure circuit breakers work
- Test outlets for signs of shorting
- Get rid of as many extension cords as possible
- Get rid of so-called extension cord “rats’ nests – altogether
- Inspect appliance cords for signs of wear and replace as needed
Heating and Cooling System Issues
Keeping your parent’s home in a safe condition includes having the furnace inspected and cleaned annually. Filters should be changed at least twice a year.
If your parent’s home requires fuel oil for heating, make certain that this product is delivered at appropriate intervals. Confirm that deliveries of fuel are made when scheduled.
The possibility does exist that heating and cooling systems can fail. Make certain that your parent has access to alternatives if this happens. These can include electric fans, extra blankets, and firesafe space heaters.
The comprehensive safety check of your parent’s home also needs to focus on the plumbing system in the home. When it comes to the plumbing element of a whole home inspection, the following needs to be part of that process:
- Check for leaks in pipes
- Check for leaks in faucets
- Install antiscald devices on showerheads and bathtub spouts
- Lower the temperature of hot water if necessary
- Ensure that toilets flush properly
- If your parent’s home has a sceptic tank, make sure it is pumped in a timely manner (usually every year or two)
Railings, Banisters, and Grab Bars
Regularly check to ensure that railings, banisters, and grab bars are sturdy, properly connected, and can manage your parent’s weight. For example, if these safety devices were installed quite a long time ago, confirm that they are still truly able to support the weight of your parent (he or she many have gained weight since installation).
As you work through a whole house safety check, look for other areas in the home that might benefit from a railing, banister, or grab bar. It’s better to have more rather then less of these safety devices in your aging parent’s home.
Aging safety expert and author Robert Bornstein summed up safety and clutter in an aging parent’s homes when he wrote:
Most houses have an accumulation of beloved but useless decoration – fun when you’re forty, dangerous when you’re eight. Smaller items that can be tripped over should be removed. For larger items, you’ll need to weight the risks and benefits of moving it. (If your loved one is so used to an item that he automatically avoids it, you might as well leave it where it is.) Install night lights to help your loved one maneuver during late-night bathroom trips.
In the simplest of terms, there undoubtedly are items in your parent’s home that are not needed, no matter the emotional attachment. As part of a safety check of the home, you should begin the discussion with your mother of father about eliminating some of these things.
A compromise might be getting your parent to agree to put these items in storage for the time being. By taking that route, if the removal of certain items becomes otherwise problematic for your mother or father, they can be returned to his or her home.
Your older parent’s bathtub very well may have already been outfitted with grab bars or siderails. As part of the safety check of your mother or father’s home, you should also consider the following to enhance waterworks safety at the residence:
If not already done so, install permanent nonslip strips in the bathtub
You are wise to avoid suction-bottom tub mats because they become loose far too easily
Doublecheck to ensure that the shower curtain doesn’t funnel water onto the bathroom floor
Attach weights to the bottom of a shower curtain to keep it in place
Use nonskid bathmats next to the tub and frequently check them for wear
Ensure that the area in front of the bathroom sink is kept dry (and the same holds true for the area around the kitchen sink)
In the final analysis, your aging parent’s safety is enhanced when you as an adult child keeps abreast of ensuring the residence is in tip-top condition in regard to the items set forth in this article. This truly is an ongoing process.
The time very well may come that other alternatives to your parent continuing to live at home may be preferable. One possible alternative you might want to consider for your aging parent is assisted living. Assisted living is designed to provide you parent the level of care and help he or she needs. The objective is to provide supportive assistance while protecting the independence of your parent at the same time. In addition, assisted living communities are designed and staffed in such a way so as to enhance the safety and security of your parent in his or her Golden Years.