Opening up a dialogue with your senior about her safety at home can be more difficult than you expect. For so many aging adults, this is a loaded topic because in their minds it leads to a nursing home and losing all independence.
Assess Her Comfort Levels
Safety very often begins with comfort. If your elderly family member isn’t comfortable in her home, she’s more likely to experience situations in which she’s off balance or otherwise unsafe. Other comfort concerns also factor in. During hot summer months it’s not just about comfort for your senior to have a working air conditioner. That one appliance can ensure she doesn’t experience dehydration or heat stroke.
Double Check Mobility and Maneuverability
Both mobility and maneuverability factor heavily into keeping your senior safe at home. Stairs, long hallways, and any other oddities, like uneven thresholds, can all present problems for your elderly family member. Floor styles can also be a consideration. For instance, hardwood flooring on stairs can be much more slippery than is healthy for your senior.
Ask if She Has Safety Concerns
One technique that caregivers often overlook is simply asking if someone has safety concerns. Talk to your elderly family member. What is she worried about? What does she feel confident about? If she feels that you’re listening and that you want to help her, she’s going to be far more likely to open up and to share with you whatever it is that has her concerned.
Make a List of Simple Changes
You can start making a list of small, simple changes that you can put into effect. Big changes, like renovating your senior’s bathroom, are often a little scary for her and don’t address problems accurately. When you start out with a smaller list of simple changes, like putting grab bars in bathrooms and hallways, those make a big difference and don’t make huge changes in her home. You can work your way up to the bigger changes.
This is a conversation that both you and your elderly family member might have been avoiding. It’s not easy to talk about ways in which the home that she loves may have become less safe for her over the years. But once you start talking about how she feels and what she needs, it’s easier to come up with solutions such as hiring elder care providers to take over cleaning tasks.
Excerpt: Keeping your senior’s home safe enough for her to live in for as long as she wants can feel like a never-ending set of tasks. It might be time to talk to your senior in depth.