Use Night lights Inside
If you want to prevent stubbed toes and falls (not to mention broken hips), install nightlights in your home. Put them in all the hallways and bathrooms. You might also want to use solar-powered ones outside. These are almost always water and weatherproof and they will make it much safer for your loved one when they’re outside in the early morning or in the evening.
Clear The Clutter
You can reduce the risk of falling by clearing out your hallways. Get stuff off the floor, and create an environment that is generally clutter-free. Remove or tape down things like loose electrical cords and rugs. Put away any children’s toys and keep laundry in a hamper so that it’s out of the way. It might sound insignificant, but it’s not. It actually is one of the best ways to clean up the home and make sure that it’s a safe place for a senior.
Install some lever handles on all your doors. Why? Because they’re way easier to open than traditional knob-style handles. Lever handles don’t require twisting, which can be incredibly painful and difficult to use if your loved one has arthritis.
If you’re looking for a way to decrease the risk of a loved one falling, add railings inside and outside of your home at all entry points where there are stairs. Make sure these railings can support a person’s bodyweight. Ideally, you will want the railing to support at least 200 lbs. Remember, even if they are your loved ones, there can be a liability risk to not installing railings in your home. David Resnick & Associates, a Manhattan personal injury and accident lawyer, often deals with these types of cases. Even when you are related to the person living with you, unless they are on the deed and part owner of the home, an injury in your home could negatively affect your homeowner’s insurance rates.
Lighting and HVAC
Add brighter lighting, but avoid pot lights. Focused lighting has a tendency to cast harsh shadows, which can make it more difficult to see. Instead, use lots of ambient lighting combined with bright overhead lighting in a warm color temperature (e.g. 2700K). You should also add bright lights to your senior relative’s closet and bedroom as well as your kitchen.
You could also try “smart lights.” Smart lights are triggered by motion or are set on a timer so that the lights come on a specific times.
For the HVAC, you may want to install zoned heating and cooling areas so that your loved one can adjust the temperature to their liking. As we get older, changes in our metabolism and our body’s hormones may make us warmer or colder. You may not feel a temperature change, but your senior relative might.
Joshua Knight has his elderly Mother living with him and his family. His articles talk about the practical as well as emotional factors of living with Mom again; and creating a family environment that everyone can feel happy in and appear on a range of blogs online.