February 2nd, 2017
If you’re a Baby Boomer mother or father, then surely you remember how important it was to “baby proof” your home. Well, now that you’re preparing to help take care of an elderly parent, it is no less important to ensure that their in-home care environment is also free of potential risks and dangers.
Start with a review of the overall home layout. Make sure floor surfaces have carpet that is sufficiently tacked down and never use slippery wax on bare floors. Good lighting is also imperative, with non-glare 100 watt or greater bulbs used throughout the home, and light switches at both the top and bottom of staircases. You should also make sure your loved ones wear proper fitting shoes with low heels and, if needed, use a properly measured walking aid. Finally, keep a fire extinguisher and smoke detector on every floor, and flashlights within easy reach.
Two rooms in particular require more scrutiny than others: the bathroom and kitchen. In the bathroom, if the tub isn’t skid-proof, install a bath mat with a non-slip bottom; make sure cold and hot faucets are marked clearly and, to avoid scalds, turn the water heater temperature to 120 degrees or below; and install a night light with a sensor so the room will be lit over-night. In the kitchen, make sure the floors are clean and uncluttered and work areas well-illuminated; mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances with bright colors; store heavier objects at waist level, and always keep sharp knives in a rack.
Finally, since incorrect medicines and dosages could be disastrous, help your loved ones to review and clearly mark their medications, and dispose of any old or used medicines.