HOME SAFETY – 12 THINGS TO CHECK WHEN KEEPING AGING PARENTS IN THEIR OWN HOME-PART I

To have a geriatric assessment team visit the home of a senior can be expensive, and a luxury not always available, in every part of the country. Having your own assessment tool and annually checking areas of the senior’s life and environment can go far in keeping ahead of changes, and needs. If unable to complete the assessment at one visit, break it into smaller parts. The importance is to not rush through the assessment. But as you go through the assessment make notes and brainstorm corrections.

12 Point Senior Living Assessment Tool:

  1. Stairs, inside and outside the home. Are they in good repair, with adequate lighting and hand rails. Watch the senior go up and down the stairs, watching for signs of decreasing strength and balance. If the senior is in a wheelchair are ramps in place, is it difficult to maneuver in and out of doors and doorways?
  2. Bathroom assessment. Is the toilet a taller, chair height making it safer to transfer on and off. Are there ample and secure grab bars in locations where they will be of use to the senior? Many older people stop having a tub bath, and if they do not have a shower, they may switch to a sink bath. There should be a bath mat on the floor of the shower, a shower chair and supplies located in places of easy access. This is an area that also needs plenty of light.
  3. Medication storage and usage. A complete list of the senior’s medications should always be readily available. In an emergency situation, emergency personnel will want to know what medications the senior is taking. Where are medications stored? Are medications sorted into a daily medication container? Who is responsible for filling th container?  When you visit is the container on the right day and time indicating that the senior is taking their medication correctly? Is there a plan in place to check expiration dates and have a routine refill of prescription medications. Are refills delivered, or is there a plan in place for someone to pick them up?
  4.  Nutrition and cooking. Is there adequate food in the home? Is the food preparation area clean, are there cleaning supplies present? Are all of the appliances in working order? Are there any signs around of fire, burn pots and pans, burn areas of cutting boards, or dish cloths? Is there any evidence of spoiled food present? Who handles the trash and garage removal, does that system seem to be working well? Who does the grocery shopping, is there evidence of a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables available?
  5. Emergency numbers. Are emergency and family phone numbers posted by the phone, as well as programmed into the seniors’s phone?
  6. Home Temperature. Is the home warm in winter and cool in summer, is the equipment on a regular maintenance schedule?

Taking care of these issues on regularly scheduled visits will ensure that the senior can remain in their home, as well as give peace of mind to the family.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing