It’s common for children of aging parents or family caregivers to worry about the safety of their loved ones. Inevitably as they age, they can be more susceptible to both physical and mental deterioration, and the last thing you want is for them to fall or get injured. To help combat potential hazards, here are a few tips to help your loved ones stay safe at home.
1. Remove fall hazards
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 36 million older adults fall each year, and one out of every five falls causes an injury. Additionally, about three million older adults each year are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury. While this data is shocking, it just goes to show the importance of helping to minimize fall hazards seniors may face within their homes.
For example, adding a waterproof seat in the shower, or placing non-slip strips on the floor of the bathtub, can prevent any slips or falls. Also consider removing any throw rugs, especially in high traffic areas like hallways, as the corners tend to lift and can become a fall hazard. Small changes throughout the house can make a huge difference and hopefully give you, and your family member, peace of mind.
2. Make the home more accessible
Talk with family members about making minor home improvements to make the home more accessible. Little changes like swapping standard toilets out for high-profile toilets or changing doorknobs to lever handles are great ways to make a home more accessible for seniors. Other ideas include implementing ramps that cover steps, adding a stairlift, turning the bath into a walk-in shower, or widening doorways to accommodate wheelchair access.
These changes can be costly, but there is financial help. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) gives you a revolving line of credit secured by your home to use for large expenses. Another option is a personal line of credit, which is a set amount of money you can borrow against for a given period of time. When deciding whether to use a HELOC or personal line of credit, know that the main difference is whether collateral is required to secure the loan. A HELOC is secured with an asset, your home. On the other hand, a personal line of credit can be either secured or unsecured. Review all of the financial options that are available to you when preparing to make these minor home improvements. It can only help you — and your loved one — take the next steps in planning a safer home.
3. Implement cyber security
More and more senior citizens are taking advantage of electronics like laptops or cell phones. Technology has provided them with great ways to communicate and connect with friends and family. However, it’s important to remember the dangers that come with being online.
Aging adults can be vulnerable to online scams and phishing attempts. As a loved one or caregiver, it’s imperative to educate them about online safety. There are many ways to keep your loved ones safe online, starting with explaining what cyber security is. Another way to implement security is to protect all of their devices by installing anti-virus software or enabling automatic updates. Have them create strong passwords, write them down in a safe spot, and remind them to log out of accounts when they’re done using them. Assist them at any stage of this as needed. Education is an essential piece of preventing cyber security attacks.
4. Install home security
Home security is important for people of any age, but especially for seniors who might feel more vulnerable at home. Unfortunately, aging adults tend to be more of a target for break-ins and criminal attempts because they are seen as less physically capable and might not be taking advantage of modern home security.
Browse through a list of home security options to determine which is best for your loved ones. Not only is home security good for break-ins, but some systems are even equipped with fire detection, flood sensors, or carbon monoxide alarms. Others have health alert options that trigger an alert for immediate medical assistance. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to invest in home security. Doing so will give both you and your loved ones less to worry about.
As difficult as it may be to have your aging parent or parents living in a home alone, there are plenty of ways to make it a safer environment. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your loved ones are safe at home.
by Emily Salanger, First Republic Bank