As you get older, living independently in your own home can become more of a challenge. Simple tasks that you used to do without thinking—such as climbing the stairs or doing the laundry—become more challenging and time-consuming as your physical health declines. Forgetfulness can begin to cause problems, too.
So, if you have an elderly relative who is currently living alone, it can be helpful to perform a risk assessment of their house. This will enable you to identify areas of potential concern and then take steps to address them. Here’s a quick guide on how to get started.
When it comes to lighting, there are a few key points to consider. Firstly, are the lights in the house bright enough for your loved one to comfortably see by and do complex tasks? Secondly, are the light switches easy to reach and simple to operate? Are there lamps close to where they like to sit in the living room and by the bed? Finally, it might be worth considering installing night lights to help your relative safely navigate around the house after dark.
The bathroom is a prime location when it comes to safety because it’s very easy to slip and fall while bathing. Some options to lower the risk and make using the facilities easier include:
- A walk-in shower with step-free entry
- A seat in the shower
- Grab rails next to the toilet and in the bath
- Grippy mats on the floor and in the bath/shower to prevent slipping
- A higher toilet
- Lever-operated taps instead of ones that twist
Lots of elderly people struggle with stairs, and falling down them is a serious safety concern. One option is to have a stairlift installed, but you could also consider having sturdier banisters with handrails on both sides of the staircase. It’s also wise to provide your loved one with a personal alarm they can wear around their neck, which will enable them to summon help if they do suffer a fall when home alone. Remember, if you already have big concerns about your relative’s safety at home, it might be worth considering moving them to a luxury care home in Camberley instead, as there’s only so much you can do with modifications.
If your loved one struggles to get in and out of chairs or their bed, it might be worth considering power-assisted rising furniture. Another concern to look out for is sharp corners, which should be covered to prevent them from causing serious damage if older people trip and fall into them. Speaking of tripping, keep an eye out for loose cords and cables or clutter on the floor, as these can be a definite hazard.
The kitchen is one of the main rooms that can pose a danger, so be sure to check it carefully. Some steps you can take to reduce risk include:
- Moving objects in very high and low cupboards to mid-level shelves
- Using an electric hob instead of gas to reduce fire risk
- Choosing appliances that have automatic shut-off safety features
- Replacing breakable glasses and plates with more durable styles
You should also check the fire and carbon monoxide alarms in the house on a regular basis.