Adult children with elderly parents often report to our firm that their concerns about their parents significantly increased following an accident at home. After a trip to the emergency room and sometimes also a short-term rehabilitation center, children observe a decline in their loved one that requires changes going forward. Taking a closer look at your loved one’s home is a worthwhile step toward improving their overall safety.
Home Instead, Inc., the franchisor of Home Instead Senior Care, conducted interviews in 2014 with emergency room physicians. Their qualitative study helped to highlight some of the primary issues that affect older adults and their families. Risk factors for accidents at home, as identified by the emergency room physicians polled, are: poor balance, impaired motor skills, dementia, and poor eyesight. Another potential risk factor is lack of assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs are defined as bathing, dressing, transferring, walking, feeding, using the toilet, and grooming.
Performing a basic safety checkup should be done at least once every year. Many older adults have lived in their homes for over 50 years! Change to a longtime home can thus be hard to accept. However, small changes to a living space can mean that older adults are somewhat less likely to have an accident in the home. Break down your checklist by examining each room in the home. As a start, ask yourself these five questions:
- Is the floor uneven or is the carpet torn?
- Is the threshold in the room entryway too high and a potential tripping hazard?
- Is the entryway to the room wide enough to fit a walker or wheelchair?
- Is there adequate light?
- Are pathways obstructed by furniture or clutter?
Following an assessment of the home, it is essential to strategize the next steps. Making a home more safe can range from simply removing a throw rug to larger scale projects such as a bathroom remodel or ramp installation. For more information on professionals who can assist with larger scale projections, see our past blog entry on certified aging in place specialists (CAPS) at http://weatherby-associates.com/blog/estate-planning/2016/01/08/what-is-caps-a-specialist-approach-to-aging/. However small or large, modifications put in place by concerned family members can help in the prevention of mentally and physically stressful trips to the emergency room.
At Weatherby & Associates, PC, our life care coordinator does a comprehensive geriatric assessment which features a closer look at the answers to the questions above. For more information about our life care planning process, contact our office at 860-769-6938.