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Are your aging parents safe in their home?

June 7, 2012

I apologize for posting this Thursday evening rather than on my regularly scheduled day of Wednesday. I was having internet connection problems and the problem is now resolved. Thank you for your patience.  

As promised, during the month of June we will explore the safety of your aging parents, or client.

We’ll start off by exploring safety within the home. In my book, which will be available later this year, I have an entire section devoted to safety. For purposes of this blog we’ll touch on some of the more critical areas so you can get an idea of what types of things to keep an eye out for while visiting or assisting.

Safety is an issue that can be addressed outright with your parents, but I’ve found it is better to do an evaluation of their needs during a number of visits and then address the subject with them in small doses. A room by room examination of the interior of the home can be done easily without drawing attention to yourself.

 – As you enter the home through the front door do you see  throw rugs or other items that could cause a fall?

            – Is there appropriate lighting throughout the home?


            – In the living and dining rooms are there walkways with enough space to avoid bumping into furniture?


            – Is there furniture in any room with sharp corners that could cause bruising or a laceration?


            – Are there visible cords from electronics or lamps that could be tripped over?


            – Is there an indoor pet?


           – In the kitchen is there adequate counter space? Are counters cluttered or clean?


– Are knives stored in a manner to prevent cuts?


          – Do the appliances work properly?


           – Are frequently used items within reach?


           – When accessing upper cabinets what is being used to reach the items?


           – Take a look at the bathroom–do the faucets work properly? Are there grab bars in place? Is there a shower or a step-in tub?


           – What is the temperature setting for the hot water heater?


            – Observe your parents doing the cooking. Do they use a gas stove or electric? Can they easily lift pans from the stove to the counter or table? Are there dangling sleeves or over-sized clothing dangling over open flames?


            – Is trash emptied regularly to prevent bugs, rodents, odors, and debris?


            – Are there stairs in the home? If yes, is there a sturdy rail? Are the steps evenly spaced and easy to use?


            – Do your parents smoke? Do they smoke in bed?


            – Are there smoke alarms on all levels of the house? Who changes the batteries? When were the batteries last changed?


            – Are there window locks on all the windows?


            – Are there sturdy locks on the doors?


            – Is there a routine for checking the doors and windows before bed?


           – Are all chemicals and caustic items clearly labeled? Where are they stored?


            – Are there rubber gloves available when using harsh chemicals?


            – Is there eye protection available when using chemicals?


            – Is there a first aid kit in the house?


            – Are emergency numbers posted next to each phone? Is the print large enough for your parent to read?


            – Are family contact numbers posted next to each phone? Is the print large enough for your parent to read?


            – When was the last time the furnace filter was cleaned, the wood stove pipe cleaned, or the fireplace cleaned?


            – Where are the emergency shut off valves for gas and water? Where is the electrical panel? Are these items  easily accessible? Do your parents know how to shut them off if necessary?


           –  If your parent, or client, lives alone do they have a Life Alert, or similar, system?


            – Is there a security system in the house? If yes, is it used appropriately?

The list could go on, however for our purposes here we will start with this. In my next post I will address these questions with ways you can easily fix any problems you’ve found in the home.

Feel free to offer your suggestions and share any areas you might also feel need to be addressed. You input is appreciated. Thanks for joining me. 

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