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August 12, 2017

Safety Tips for Home Care

Home care is health care or supportive care provided by a caregiver inside of a senior's home. This allows the senior to maintain a level of independence and receive the necessary care in the comfort of their house, rather than be put into a residential, long-term nursing home or specialized facility.

The comforting environment of home care may be a more appealing option for many; however, safety could become an issue in this situation. Depending on whether the home care is being provided by a trained professional or by a family member, there may be times when the senior is left on their own, in which case safety precautions need to be taken.

When creating a safe living environment, the first step is to assess the needs of the senior. Physical and cognitive impairments must be considered when determining to what extent safety measures be incorporated in home care.  The kitchen and bathroom are the rooms with the highest risk for injury, so those rooms should be safety-proofed first.

Falls are the number one cause in elderly adults, the kitchen and bathroom are locations where falls frequently happen due to slippery floors, spills, having to stand on stools and over-reaching for items above the head. Below are ways to ensure that these rooms remain safe.

Tips for a safe kitchen:

  • Keep sharp knives and utensils in a secure drawer
  • Store dishes and other regularly used items in reachable cabinets and drawers to prevent the senior from having to use a stool or chair
  • Keep cleaning supplies, chemicals and flammable liquids out of the kitchen and in a locked cabinet
  • Depending on the health status of the senior, disengaging the garbage disposal may be necessary

Tips for a safe bathroom:

  • Use non-slip, rubber mats on the bathroom floor and in the bathtub or shower
  • Place medications in a secure location and implement a system for the senior to take their medications if they must take them on their own
  • Install a grab bar near the toilet and in the shower to offer support for unsteady seniors who may have trouble standing up or sitting down

Other safety items to be considered in home care are night lights, making sure walking paths are clear of cords and rugs and making sure smoke alarms are changed regularly with new batteries.  In the unfortunate instance where a fall or injury does happen, there are products that can ensure timely help is provided to the individual. A Personal Emergency Response System from Comfort Keepers® will allow the injured senior to call for help with the touch of a button. They can be worn on the wrist or around the neck, offering peace of mind for the caregiver if their elderly loved-one must be left alone.

Instituting these safety precautions can provide a safer environment but the need for reassessment is always there. As the health status changes with the senior, a new safety plan may need to be put in place to ensure that the elderly loved-one enjoys a happy, injury-free life.

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