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Home Safety Checklist: Are Your Aging Parents Safe at Home?

— November 19, 2019

The key is in staying organized and having a problem-solving mindset, so that you can provide them with the best help possible.

As our parents get older, we will realize we have fears in us we knew nothing about.

We will catch ourselves wondering if they have taken their meds, if they have eaten a healthy meal, or even if they have taken a tumble down the stairs.

You may say this is just like the anxiety they have gone through when we were kids. But you forget that as kids, we lived with our parents. Now, we live in our separate homes and we can’t be there all the time to look out for them.

That’s why it’s so important to manage your parent’s home with care and ensure their safety at all times.

Here’s how to achieve just that. 

Talk to your parents about safety

The first and most important thing you need to do is bring up the issue of safety with your parents.

True, you could also just go about their house parent-proofing everything, but that’s certainly not the best way to go about it. After all, how would you feel if someone barged into your house and started moving things around, albeit in your interest?

Start a conversation about medical alert systems and all the other changes you would like to introduce. Stress that you’re making all of these suggestions because you love them and worry about them, and want to make sure they get the help they need whenever they need it.

Remove tripping hazards

These could be wires and extension cords that run across rooms or that are not perfectly flush with the walls. Any loose wiring is a potential fall in the making, so hire an electrician if you need to, but get them out of the way.

The same goes for all rugs of the non-slip variety, pieces of furniture that stick out too much, unstable chairs or tables, etc. Survey the lay of the land with your parents, and see how you can move things around so they have freedom of movement.

Woman reading in armchair; image by Yoshua Giri, via
Woman reading in armchair; image by Yoshua Giri, via

This is especially important in the bathroom and kitchen, as this is where most home accidents tend to happen.

Check your smoke, gas, and burglar alerts

Make sure all of the alarm systems in the home are in working order, and if you don’t have any, this would be the time to install them.

A fire alarm is your first order of business, and you can throw in a carbon monoxide detector as well. You can also add a burglar alarm, or install security cameras around the perimeter.

Make sure these are not an invasion of your parent’s privacy, but rather a way for you (and them) to check for any suspicious activity around the home.

Clean out the medicine cabinet, as well as under the sink

We’re all guilty of overstocking our medicine cabinets, so go over what your parents have in theirs, and make sure they’re involved in that, too. Remove anything that has expired or that is contraindicated with the medications your parents are taking at the moment. Drop by the cabinet from time to time, just to check on the current state.

You can do the same with the under-sink cabinet. That’s where a lot of expired household cleaning products can pile up, many of which can be harmful to the skin or lungs of your parents. Try to get them some natural cleaning products that are safer, but still do a good job of keeping the space clean.

You can also go through the food cabinets and throw out anything that has expired. Establish a weekly and/or monthly shopping list, and organize a good way to get all the groceries they need, without any waste or excess.

Check and add rails where needed

Check the stability of the stair rail – it may not be as sturdy as you remember it as a child. Remember that it will need to support your parent’s weight, and not just serve as a decorative fall preventer.

If you need to also add rails to the shower or bathtub to prevent accidental falls, and make getting in and out easier. Depending on your parents’ mobility, you can also add these rails to other rooms, so they can move around more freely.

Final thoughts

As our parents age and start having different needs, accepting the change in roles can be the most difficult part. All of a sudden, they’re the ones needing your help in their daily lives, and not the other way around. But this is a normal part of life for all of us who are lucky enough to still have our parents around. The key is in staying organized and having a problem-solving mindset, so that you can provide them with the best help possible. And ensuring that they’re safe in their home is the first step.

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