Did you know that June is National Safety Month? That might mean different things depending on who you ask—hurricane safety for the home, pool safety for young kids, etc. For those of us with a Mom or Dad living in our own home, it means making sure that they are safe when we’re with them and when we’re not. Here are some of the best ways you can help the senior in your life stay safe, now and throughout the year:
Inspect the home.
If your parent or loved one is living at home, you’ll want to make sure their space is safe for them. What “safe” means can vary from case to case, and your parent may have their own unique needs and potential issues. Start by preventing potential falls or accidents—if they haven’t already, help your parent arrange for a shower chair, hand held shower head, non-slip bath mat, and grab bars. You may want to remove your tub to add a shower which will prevent climbing over the traditional bath tub. Help to reorganize the kitchen, bathroom and other storage spots to keep important items lower and more accessible. If your parent’s home has stairs, consider installing a stair lift that will make getting up and down the stairs easier and safer. Switching out tile or wood floors for carpet can make slips less likely (and can better cushion a fall in the event that it does happen!). These small changes not only increase safety, they can foster a spirit of independence that your parent will really appreciate.
Help them keep up with medications.
Help your parent take their medications responsibly and safely. If they are taking several, it can be easy to mix some up or forget to take them altogether (and even if they’re taking one or two medications, you still want to make sure they are being taken according to schedule). Ask your parent about their symptoms, when they take their medication, and other questions that will help you gently keep an eye on things.
Lend a hand during storms and emergencies.
We’re in the midst of hurricane season here in Florida, so you already know that storm shutters, food stores and other emergency preparedness measures are a must. Know that, when helping to take care of a senior parent, approaching storms can mean double the work for you—while you prepare your own home (if you live apart), you will also need to make time to ensure that theirs is safe and upright!
If any type of big storm rolls in, or your parent faces another emergency situation (like their pet needs medical attention or they need a ride to the doctor), try your best to meet their needs or have a friend, family member or neighbor you trust to be on standby. We suggest stopping by to visit your parents and have a backpack with any important papers and medications in case your parent needs to be evacuated. Safety is hugely important in the lives of senior parents, but sometimes situations arise that you don’t necessarily plan for—try to implement a plan for when surprises pop up here and there. These practices will allow your parent some much-needed independence with a safety net always ready to help them—they will allow you the peace of mind you need as well.