What Do Other Carers Get Up to and the Importance of Senior Home Safety Checklist

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Article by 

Mary Bart

Who doesn’t want to enjoy their freedom and the ability to maintain their lifestyle and independence? Yet, with age and declining health, we often need a reality check to ensure that the inherent dangers and risks of living alone are mitigated as much as possible, which is why this senior home safety checklist is very important.

Let’s take a look at some smart seniors who have boldly taken things into their own hands to prevent unwanted surprises.

Ruth and Bev

Ruth is 78 years old and a recent widow. She’s an avid bridge and Scrabble player and has lots of friends and an active social and family life. Her calendar is full. Her goal, despite daily pain and reduced mobility caused by chronic arthritis, is to live vibrantly in her home for as long as she can. Bev is Ruth’s oldest daughter. She lives 15 minutes away.

Home maintenance

Ruth and Bev have been handling things themselves but aside from gardening, which Bev’s husband helps out with on the weekends, there are a number of other more serious issues that need to be addressed.

Clipboard in hand, mother and daughter decided to create a to-do list with priorities and action steps. They invited a handyman friend to join them and paid a community occupational therapist to help them create a detailed home safety check.

senior home safety checklist

Senior Home Safety Checklist

Here’s what the team came up with:

Safety first. Check the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Add another fire extinguisher in the kitchen and re-demonstrate how to use it. Review security system protocols.

Better lighting. Install hallway nightlights and a motion light in the bathroom, and switch to eco-friendly, long-lasting lightbulbs in fixtures.

Watchful help. Add a webcam in the bedroom and kitchen and a peephole in the front door.

Upgrade devices. “Mum needs a new phone.” Make sure she chooses one that’s user-friendly and has two-way speech and alerts.

Clean vents. Clean the stove fan, laundry vent, and air-conditioning and heating ducts, and call a chimney sweep for the fireplace and chimney.

Change to double-sided locks. Add double-sided locks to the bathroom, basement and exterior doors for easier access in emergencies.

Drips and leaks. Fix the plumbing to eliminate leaky pipes and reduce the potential for dampness and mould. Change the laundry room sink and taps, and fix the leaking showerhead and cracked tile. Re-grout.

Stairways. Secure the railings on all staircases, and replace and secure carpeting on the stairs.

In case of an emergency. Re-stock the first-aid kit and create a list of emergency contacts with their correct telephone numbers. Keep the list somewhere visible.

Out with the old. Throw out the kitchen chair with the broken arm, de-clutter the stairs, hallways and other areas to prevent tripping and fire hazards.

In with the new. Add a new coat of paint to freshen up the kitchen and the family room, as Ruth and her friends spend a fair bit of time there.

Check small appliances. Replace the old kettle and toaster, as they no longer seem safe.

Of note: Many of these tasks are simple fixes that could be done in a day or two if Ruth and Bev set their minds to it and get a little help.

Inside and out

Along with the interior to-dos, there was also work to be done outside. At first, the list sounded overwhelming, but with a closer look, the handyman said things weren’t in as bad shape as they seemed. Ruth’s husband had done a good job of keeping things up before he passed away.

The pair hired the handyman, who was actually the neighbour’s husband, to keep an eye on things from now on. They asked him to immediately fix a few torn window screens, level the side pathway to get rid of uneven paving stones that might cause a fall and fix a dozen or so roof shingles that had come off during the winter. He also promised to help Bev clean out the garage to make room for garden tools and hoses. Replacing the back eaves and cleaning the rest made it onto the list as well.

All in all, Ruth and Bev were suddenly set and hadn’t spent too much time or money in the process. Plus, they’d done their best to prevent a spill and a hospital trip.

Related Post: Advocating for your loved one: What you need to know

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