Senior Living: Safety, comfort of loved ones should be focus of holiday visits

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By BETH DOW, Senior Living Advice

The holidays are just around the corner and many of you will be traveling to see aging family members.

This is a perfect time to look around your loved one’s home for easy, inexpensive changes that can make a world of difference; not just in their safety and security but will help ensure that they will be able to remain in their home longer. 

As we age, we need as much light as possible to prevent trips, falls and just to see better.  Installing automatic or motion sensitive lights outside of exterior doors will help light paths and entry ways.  Traditional “key entry” doors can easily be converted to touch screen or remote entry locks.  Exterior and interior doors that have lever hardware are easier to use than the traditional circular hardware and can be exchanged without much skill needed.  

Inside the home, brighten rooms by adding extra lamps or installing new light kits to existing ceiling lighting.  On the walls, “rocker” light switches are easier to use than traditional switches.  Replacing electrical socket plates with LED night light wall plates will provide much needed lighting at night making those midnight water and bathroom trips safer.  

In the kitchen and bathroom, cabinet handles that are “D” shaped are easier to grab. Installing “pull out” shelves in cabinets can also greatly help your loved one find items more easily.

Installing stove-top fire suppressors will ensure that if something is accidentally  left on the stove, the smoke will trigger the extinguisher and quickly stop a fire before it begins.  Be sure to check to see that there is a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, easy to reach, and that your loved one knows how to use it. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries. 

In the bathroom, grab bars can look unattractive but replacing traditional towel racks with new stylish ones that double as grab bars can provide safety without screaming … “old persons bathroom!” 

As we age, muscle mass declines makes rising from a sitting position more difficult.  Consider replacing old toilets (16 inches) with a new comfort height toilet (17 to 19 inches).  A shower chair or bench with a handheld shower head will help round out the bathroom to make it a much safer place    

It doesn’t take a lot of skill, time or money to make your loved one’s home safer.  When asked, most everyone wants to stay in their home for as long as they can.  Help your loved this holiday season by showing them how small changes can add years to their time in their home.  

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd and Geriatric Care Manager. Readers can contact her at [email protected]

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