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Starting the Dialogue with your Aging Parents: Spring Safety

April 21, 2014

The calendar told us a month ago that spring was here, but for some parts of the country it seems that spring’s arrival still hasn’t gotten the message. For those of us enjoying sunny days and warmer temperatures though I want to remind you of the need for safety as it pertains to your aging parents.  With the warmer temperatures, sunnier days, and greening of the lawns people of all ages get a hankering to get outside and dig in the dirt. That includes our aging parents.

For some of you that won’t be a major concern because your parents may still be young and fit enough to get around unassisted and with little to no impairment. For those using walkers, canes, or with arthritic joints the joys of being outdoors can be a bit tougher. You can do a few things to help make it easier for those you love with ambulation difficulties to get around and enjoy the season. Here are a few tips:

  • Check that handrails along stairs (indoors and out) are sturdy and free of wobbles.
  • Walk along patios and pathways to be sure that the surfaces are even and free of raised roots, rocks, or other  uneven disturbances that might create a tripping hazard.
  • Be sure that wooden boards on patios and decks are nailed securely in place and evenly sanded.
  • Assess tree branches and shrubbery for low hanging or protruding limbs and remove any that are in the  way.
  • Pull out the garden tools, lawnmower, leaf blower, and pruning shears. Check that the edges are sharpened correctly, add fresh oil to the mower (if a gas powered mower is used) and check that it is easy to start for your parent, oil handles on gardening tools and pruning shears, then store things in the shed or garage in a manner that is easy for your aging parent to access without hurting themselves.
  • Another thing to look for with gardening tools and mowers is whether your parent can still manage the weight of the implement. The heavy non self-propelled mower used for years may be too heavy for dad to push these days so an alternative will need to be discussed. Maybe the hoes and rakes that mom has used in the flower beds since before you were born are to heavy and long for her so lighter tools will be needed. The wheelbarrow wheels may need oiling, or maybe a different type of wagon is needed for ease of use. These items are simple to assess and replace, but troublesome and dangerous if left for use when they can no longer be handled safely.
  • Pull out the lawn chairs or patio furniture and make sure that the seating surfaces are without holes and any wooden surfaces are sanded smooth.

Obviously if you do not live close to your parents you will have to hire someone to look into these safety factors and let you know what needs to be replaced. If you do live close enough, or can make a visit to assess the situation, then be sure to include your parents in the process. They are more likely to take your suggestions and make the changes for optimal safety if they share in the assessment and discussion.

If your parents live in an assisted living facility, condominium unit, or nursing home they will not be involved in lawn care or garden maintenance but they may wish to have some potted plants in their room or on a small patio. Assist them in choosing items that are easy to care for and that can be placed in a manner where they do not impede ambulation.

Most important of all, get out and spend some quality time with your parents in the warmth and sunshine. Be sure that they are dressed appropriately and have proper skin protection from the sun, but enjoy the season with them. You will all benefit from the warmth, the sun, and the sharing.

Do you have any tips to share on springtime safety? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share with all your friends and family. I hope you’ll check in weekly on Mondays for new posts.



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