If you are helping your elderly parents stay in their home longer, you must review this list of DIY projects that make the home safe for senior citizens.
As the worldwide population ages, we are not always prepared to face the challenges of caring for an aging parent. In fact, many seniors are living longer. Of course, they want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
But is their home always safe?
Many aging people (and their children) have not prepared the home to be safe for a senior citizen. Take a weekend and review your loved one’s home for hazards. Correct any potential safety threats with these DIY projects.
Let’s take a room by room look at these common safety pitfalls.
The kitchen is a common place for accidents for young and old alike! However, when seniors start to have slower reflexes, the kitchen can become a downright dangerous space.
- Kitchen Floors:
Some solid surface floors are extremely slippery! Roll on a coating of an anti-slip solution. You roll it on with a floor roller, let it dry, and the product will add “grip” to slippery kitchen tiles.
Use carpet tape to securely tape down edges of area rugs. Better yet, remove them if Mom will let you!
Make a simple contact list on your computer and secure it to the front of the fridge with magnets. Print it out in a large font so that Dad can see it easily. Include all phone numbers that he may ever need. He may know your phone number today. However, if he has a crisis tomorrow, he may forget it.
Do a thorough clean out of the contents of the fridge and clean with a white vinegar solution to cleanse any mold, mildew. Clean out the gaskets around the fridge door as well. They are notoriously dirty.
- Kitchen Cabinets:
Clear countertops of clutter and paper. Upcycle an old basket into a “magazine holder” for your parents to keep all their paper and clutter in. Oh, and while you’re at it, move it out of the kitchen!
Make a simple pantry organization system. Print out date labels in a large font. Seniors sometimes forget exactly when they purchased food products. They may not even be able to see the expiration dates clearly. This large font label system will help them remember not to eat expired foods.
As you are setting up your organization system, place the items that Mom uses most when she’s cooking on the bottom shelf and the least used items at the top.
THE LIVING ROOM:
Like the kitchen, the living room is a place where a lot of clutter can collect. Clutter to you or me is a trip hazard to an elderly person. Here are some quick DIY projects to help your aging loved ones.
- Living Room Floors:
Like in the kitchen, make sure any area rugs don’t have edges that are curled up. They are a trip hazard and cause falls and trips to the emergency room.
If the home has hardwood floors, they can be slick! Hardwood floor wax that’s intended to make floors look shiny have added waxes which also make them very slippery. Make a DIY floor cleaner of 1 cup of white vinegar per gallon of clear water. This will strip the wax and clean the floor.
- Electrical Cords:
Ensure that electrical cords to the television and components are not sticking out. Purchase a cord organizer at the home improvement center so that you can store all the cords neatly out of the way.
Some people are surprised to learn that the bedroom is actually one of the most dangerous rooms in the home for a senior citizen! These easy projects can help your senior get the relaxation she deserves.
- Cell Phone Access:
More seniors are getting cell phones than ever before! However, many of them don’t remember to charge them. Build a simple cell phone charging station on the night stand to give your senior citizen close access to his cell phone as well as a visual reminder to charge it!
While you are at completing this DIY list, ensure that all emergency numbers are programmed into his phone.
- Bed Height:
Is Mom’s bed so high that she must hop down from it? Is it so low that she must push up out of bed? If either of these is the case, adjust the bed height. This may be a DIY Project if they have a metal bed frame. You simply adjust the feet of the bed frame. If not, it may mean an investment in a new bed. But it’s food for thought.
- Adequate Walkways:
Arrange the furniture to make sure that Dad can safely walk around the bedroom without bumping into or tripping over things. You should remove extra furniture if necessary.
Area rugs…again. You know what to do!
Install a simple wall sconce next to the bed to add extra light if it’s needed. It can’t be knocked over like a bedside lamp. Make sure that it’s easy to reach!
The bathroom is the place in the home where most accidents occur for senior citizens. This is a place which requires particular attention to detail to prevent injury to your loved ones.
- Bathroom Floors:
Make bathroom floors less slippery by applying the same anti-slip solution that you used on the kitchen floors. It really is an easy task and will give you peace of mind.
Senior citizens are sometimes unable to reach up to hang up a towel to dry. Embarrassed to ask for help, Dad will drop them on the floor and create a trip hazard. In this case, install a laundry hamper in a corner for them to drop towels into after bathing.
Bath mats should have a non-skid backing so that they don’t slide from under Mom’s feet.
- Medicine Cabinet:
Spend a few minutes clearing our Mom’s medicine cabinet. Properly dispose of outdated or unnecessary medications.
Make sure that cabinets are not so full that the bottles fall to the floor where they can roll under Dad’s feet.
If the medicine cabinet is too high, install a different cabinet at a more accessible height for your parents to reach. Bathroom wall cabinets install with four screws, a very easy DIY project.
If Mom’s toilet is too high or low, invest in a new one and change it out. Toilets come with an easy to install kit, complete with step by step instructions. It is a messy job, but it’s quite easy to do. Once you’ve successfully changed one out, you’ll wonder why you ever paid a plumber to do this job.
If the toilet is the correct height, check around the floor seal. If it is leaking, the moisture can make the floor slippery. Replace the seal, which you can buy at any hardware store.
- Install Grab Bars
Purchase grab bars at your home improvement store. Install them in the following places: next to the toilet, at the bathtub or shower entrance, and inside the bathtub.
Once you start noticing potential pitfalls, deal with them in the way that best suits your family needs. Check your senior citizen’s home over every month or so. As their needs change, these projects may need to be revisited.
Your parents worried about you, and not it’s time for you to worry about them. If you complete this checklist of DIY projects to make the home safe your senior citizens, you will have more peace of mind. You will know that Mom and Dad’s home was made safe and sound by the person who loves them the most…you.
So grab your tool bag and spend some quality time with your parents this weekend. They will appreciate your effort in keeping them in their own home.
Deborah Tayloe is a freelance writer and the publisher of DIY Home & Garden. She is an avid gardener, cook, and self-proclaimed DIY warrior. She resides in a rural county in North Carolina with her husband and an energetic toy fox terrier.