2015 data from the National Alliance for Caregiving reported an estimated 43.5 million Americans serve as family caregivers in the U.S. for a parent or other relative. The tasks of a caregiver may vary but all of them aim to make life better, safer, and easier for their loved one.
Some care recipients require help with bathing or walking while others merely need another person to run errands and provide them with emotional support. Being a caregiver is undoubtedly hard but very rewarding. It is not an easy job as caring for chronically ill people can also be stressful physically and emotionally.
Whether you are caring for someone with balance problems or people with more serious health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, it’s important to consider every corner of the house as hazardous. This way, you can make adjustments and take additional measures to keep your loved one safe at all times.
What do you need to look out for?
If you’re providing care for an elderly parent, beware of fall incidents as these are common in the older adult population. In fact, approximately one in three elderly people experience fall-related injuries every year.
Keep in mind that any history of falls will immediately increase the likelihood of falling again. Some falls may have no serious complications while 10-15% can result in a bone fracture. This is why being mindful of the environment is of great importance when caring for your loved one..
Home Safety Tips You Need To Follow
Learn about their medications. Some medicines have side effects which can lead to lightheadedness or blurring of vision.
In icy or wet weather conditions, sprinkle sand or salt on outside surfaces to keep them from becoming too slippery. In extreme weather conditions, however, avoid taking your loved one out at all just to be safe.
Remove clutter or small items which your loved one can trip over. This is especially important for those with vision and mobility problems.
Install grab bars in the bathroom and bed rails in the bedroom to provide added support and stability for your loved one. This will also allow them some independence to do some things on their own, like toileting or getting out of bed.
Regularly check the water heater and make sure that it’s set at a temperature not exceeding 120°F to prevent burn injuries.
Put non-skid mats in the bathroom especially near the toilet, sink, shower area, and bathtub. In the other areas of the house, secure the loose carpet edges with adhesives to prevent tripping accidents.
Consider putting automatic lights with motion detectors in hallways and bathrooms. This way, your loved one won’t need to fumble in the dark in search for the switch, which could result in falls.
When caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, remove decorative foods to avoid confusion.
When medical oxygen is in use, no one should be smoking or using an open flame nearby.
Use adaptive utensils for patients with tremors like in the case of Parkinson’s disease. Adaptive utensils counteract tremor activity making eating easier and less messy.
Secure all railings, i.e. on the porch or stairs.
Arrange furniture in such a way that allows enough space for movement and navigation around the house.
Make sure doorways and halls are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through without difficulty. Remove fragile items from these areas such as vases and figurines.
Place a digital baby monitor in your loved one’s room so you can check on them at a moment’s notice right from the convenience of your own smartphone.
Add a decal to the glass doors and windows, making sure it’s at eye level to help your loved one see and recognize the glass easily.
Keep electrical cords and wires out of the way. There are plastic plugs you can buy to cover unused outlets.
Make sure the smoke detectors are working and double check the fire extinguisher to see if it isn’t expired yet.
Wipe spills as soon as you see them.
Add anti-slip strips on slippery floors particularly the staircases.
Label the switches of the appliances to easily determine if it’s been properly turned off.
Keep commonly used items in cabinets or countertops within reach so your loved one doesn’t have to reach up too high or bend over.
Always have a first aid kit ready and compile all the emergency numbers and post them in conspicuous places.
As a caregiver, it’s crucial to keep your loved one’s living environment safe. Some homes may require renovations while others may only need a few modifications. The moment you step into a house, assess each area and room and list down all the changes you deem necessary for your loved one’s safety and well-being.