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How to help older parents stay safe in their own home

As a parent ages, their home can potentially become more dangerous. Things that had been small risks suddenly represent serious hazards.

If a parent wants to stay in their home, it’s possible for you to help create an environment that minimizes the risks – and potentially prevents serious accidents.

Falls are often the main concern

Falls can be particularly dangerous for older adults, so it’s one of the first things you may want to address. The AARP says a number of simple modifications can help, including:

  • Getting rid of throw rugs
  • Keeping the steps and floors clear
  • Finding and fixing loose carpeting or railings
  • Adding railings to hallways
  • Making sure cords and wires are tucked away
  • Ensuring all walkways have good lighting, particularly at night

There are additional potential sources of danger to consider. Older adults are more at risk of sustaining serious burns, not just from a house fire but from scalding water or a hot stove. Some adults with a cognitive impairment may be more likely to wander, or become confused about which medication they should take.

All of these things are valid, common concerns.

Can technology help?

Improving technology is offering families more tools to help keep older adults safe. Some options have existed for awhile: fall sensors that detect when a person goes to the ground, for example, home medical alert systems, or devices that turn off the water if it reaches an unsafe temperature.

The internet has opened the door to even more solutions. One analysis projected a home health care ecosystem that allows older adults to remain in their homes for longer, with medical professionals monitoring their health remotely. That could include the use of:

  • Wearable sensors
  • Cameras to detect activity
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Automated home devices
  • Reminder systems for taking prescriptions

How reliable or effective they will be remains to be seen, so if you’re considering a new technology it’s important to do some research. It is an emerging field however, with potential solutions if your aging parent wants to stay in their home for awhile longer. A home safety strategy may even be part of a larger care plan.

For older adults, their health should be a priority. Making sure the place they spend the most time – their home – is as safe as possible can go a long way.

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