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Your Go-To Home Safety Checklist for Senior Citizens

As your parents age, they may start to struggle with everyday tasks. Bathroom floors seem more slippery. Stairs look steeper. And temperatures feel more extreme.

Although your parents may think they feel up for the challenge, you might worry about their safety. Your mother could fall and break a hip. Or your father could trip and sprain an ankle.

While you could place your parents in a care facility, you know that they’d feel happier living on their own. They’ve spent years building memories and raising children in their home, and they don’t want to leave it anytime soon.

So if you want them to stay safe, you might have to make a few upgrades to their living space to accommodate their needs.

1) Doors

Intruders sometimes target the homes of frail or elderly people, since these groups can’t defend themselves as easily. The best defense against break-ins is a strong door.

Check the entry doors in your parents’ house to ensure they use thick, durable materials and strong deadbolt locks. Since your parents’ might have an older house with worn fixtures, don’t hesitate to replace the doors if you think they’re past their prime.

2) Windows

Windows protect your home from the elements. During the summer, they seal off the heat and keep the cool air inside.

The windows also affect how much your parents have to spend each month on utility bills. Since many senior citizens live on low budgets or fixed incomes, the less electricity they can use, the better.

Inspect the windows in your parents’ home; if they leak water or let in outside air, consider replacing them for energy efficient windows.

3) Smoke Alarms

Just like in your house, your parents’ smoke alarms require yearly attention. But older people often forget to change the batteries or can’t perform the physical task necessary to maintain these systems. Check your parents’ smoke alarms at least one a year to confirm they work properly.

4) Water Heater

As you age, your skin thins, which can make you more susceptible to hot and cold water. Keep this in mind when you inspect your parents’ water heater. You should set the temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot water can scald and cause burns, and some older people don’t have the manual dexterity to change the temperature quickly.

5) Handrails

In their later years, your parents rely more on handrails to walk up and down stairs. This can place a lot of stress on the banisters around their house. A sudden broken handrail can spell disaster for a senior citizen, so reinforce the supports on each handrail at least once a year.

6) Emergency Alerts

Older people sometimes become trapped in their own homes and need emergency attention. Many seniors have experienced falls where they couldn’t recover or get up on their own. A medical alert system enables your parents to call for help with the push of a button.

7) Floors

Slippery or difficult-to-clean floors make home life more difficult for elderly people. Swap your parents old flooring for non-slip, low maintenance alternatives. Options like rubber and cork work especially well, although they tend to cost more.

8) Lights

Lights can mean the difference between a tumble in the dark and a safe climb down the stairs. Check the light bulbs in your parents’ house, especially at the top and bottom of staircases. Use bright, non-glare bulbs for optimum visibility.

With your help, your parents can stay comfortable in their own home for many years to come. Use this checklist as a guideline to help you create a safe environment for your senior parents.

Alexandra 5/27/2015

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