Generally, elderly parents want to remain living in their own home. However, remaining in the home becomes a concern when children see their parents slowing down, perhaps even having trouble with handling stairs and doing general daily activities.
This is now the time to evaluate the home to make it safe and secure for your loved ones — now and in the near future — in anticipation of aging disabilities that may occur. Help and support are available. The nation as a whole is more aware of elderly needs and services and products are becoming available at an outstanding pace.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states,
“Employment of personal and home care aides is projected to grow by 51 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The expected growth is due, in large part, to the projected rise in the number of elderly people, an age group that often has mounting health problems and that needs some assistance with daily activities.” Bureau of labor Statistics-Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition
This growing need for aides and services also encompasses
- home remodeling services — making a home more serviceable to the elderly;
- safety alert systems and technology;
- motion sensors to monitor movement;
- telehealth services — using home-based computer systems for the doctors office or a nurse to monitor vital signs and
- even a pill dispenser that notifies when it is time to take medication.
Where do you begin to make sure your elderly family member is safe and managing well in his or her home?
Visit often and at different times of the day and night. Make note of daily activities that appear challenging and where changes might be made to add safety and convenience. Remove rugs that slide — causing a fall — and move furniture with sharp edges. Set the water heater at a lower temperature. This will protect their older sensitive skin from scalds and burns. Be sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in place.
Bathrooms are a hazard area for the elderly. Grab bars by the toilet and shower are a must to help prevent falls. There are easy to install bars at your local hardware store if you want to do the work yourself. Another item that is good to have is a shower stool or chair.
If you are not sure of what needs to be done, consider hiring a professional. There are companies that specialize in home remodeling and accommodation for seniors. Michelle Graham of Accessible Design by Studio G4 says about senior home remodel projects,
“The main thing we incorporate in all of our projects is a careful study of needs and potential needs that may develop throughout a client’s lifespan.”
Keep in mind what future home adjustments might be needed for your parents to “age in place” in their home.
Home safety or medical alert companies provide GPS-based bracelets or pendants to track the elderly at home who tend to wander. Or the companies may provide alarm devices such as pendants or bracelets which allow the elderly to alert someone if there has been a fall or a sudden health-related attack. In the event an alarm has been triggered, a 24 hour monitoring service will alert the family or medical emergency services or call a neighbor depending on previous instructions. In addition there are companies that will install motion sensors in the home to monitor the elderly on a 24 hour basis.