As the holidays draw near, time spent with family becomes more frequent. This extra time is often when the daily struggles of our elderly loved ones become more apparent. How do you know when it’s time to seek in-home care for an aging Kansas City senior? Look for these signs:

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Safe-proofing a Home for Seniors

With a growing number of seniors remaining in their homes until later in life, there is a strong need to adjust certain household features. Reduce the risk of injury and provide your aging loved one with a safe and comfortable home by following these four simple steps:

  1. Safe-proof the stairs: Falls are the leading cause of in-home injuries among seniors (source) and staircases are one of the most dangerous areas of the home. Plus, certain elderly conditions, like arthritis, can make it extremely difficult to move up and down the stairs smoothly.
  • What you can do:
    • Tighten existing handrails so he or she has something sturdy to hold.
    • Install additional handrails where needed.
    • Remove loose carpeting or rugs to reduce tripping.
    • On hard-surface floors our outdoor staircases, place anti-slip tape on each step.
    • If he or she has truly limited mobility, consider investing in a chair lift.
  1. Reduce the risk for fires or burns: Reaction times, low vision and forgetfulness can all play a part in increased risk of unattended kitchen fires.
  • What you can do:
    • Install automatic turn-off devices in stove and oven.
    • Reduce clutter on countertops.
    • Have a working fire extinguisher easily accessible and make sure he or she knows how to use it.
  1. Make bath time easier: Simple hygiene tasks become more difficult in old age, especially taking a bath or shower. Wet, slippery floors and hard surfaces mixed with limited mobility can lead to an increased risk for injury. In fact, 80% of senior falls happen in the bathroom (source).
  • What you can do:
    • Invest in an adjustable bath bench, which is designed to aid seniors in safely transferring in and out of the tub. Amazon, Walmart and other retailers offer dozens of options. Find the fit that’s right for your loved one, based on his or her mobility.
    • Rework the bathroom to have a walk-in shower versus a step-in shower, which will preserve balance and reduce the risk of tripping or falling.
    • Add anti-slip tape or slip-resistant mats to the bottom of senior baths and/or showers.
    • For added safety around the toilet, tub or shower, install handrails to support your loved one as they maneuver around the bathroom. A variety of handrails and grab bars can be found at your local hardware store.
  1. Install a home security system: Living independently is important to many aging seniors, and a home security system is one of the best ways to give you peace-of-mind.
  • What you can do:
    • Make sure the security system provides all the basic safety features that will prevent burglaries, robberies or fires. These include window and door sensors, motion sensors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide monitors and video surveillance,
    • Look for a company that includes a built-in medical alert system. Most will allow your loved one to request medical help at the push of a button in a time of emergency. Some systems will even detect falls and will call for help immediately.
    • Consider adding remote control access, which would allow your loved one or his or her caregiver to monitor the security system, thermostat and other features, even when he or she is away from home.