For many people their home is considered their safe haven, a place where they can roam freely without fear of being in danger. However, for our elderly loved ones, if their home is not properly kept up and strategically designed for aging-in-place, then the home can quickly become a dangerous place.
Over the last several weeks our blog has been exploring smart aging-in-place modifications that can be made to keep your elderly loved one safe and healthy in the comfort of their own home. This week we continue our series by exploring aging-in-place changes that can be made to your elderly loved one’s bedroom.
Considering seniors spend a majority of their time in their bedroom, the bedroom is typically one of the first places aging-in-place modifications should be made. A study released in 2011 found that beds and other bedroom-related furniture caused the 2nd most consumer product related injuries. According to the study, more than 360,000 seniors over the age of 65 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by bedroom furniture.
There are many changes that can make a bedroom safer for those aging-in-place. However, before any of these changes are made, it is important that the bedroom is easily accessible and close to other commonly used rooms, especially a bathroom. Ideally, the bedroom would also be located on the same level as other rooms so that your elderly loved one does not need to climb or descend any steps.
Can You Hear Me Now?
An important addition to your elderly loved one’s bedroom is an easy-to-reach phone. Experts recommend locating the phone close to the bed and using a corded phone set up. It is also in good practice to have a spare phone battery close to the bed, in case the power goes out.
The Space Case
Bedrooms and closets come in all shapes and sizes. Utilizing storage drawers, easy-access shelving and a simplistic bedroom design will help keep clutter off the floor and out of walkways. Make sure there is enough room to maneuver through the room comfortably with walkers, wheelchairs or any other walking devices. Having laundry hampers near is another great way to keep the room free of clutter. Finally, if your loved one has a tv in their room make sure it is fastened to the wall and the remotes are close to the bedside.
Make sure your elderly loved one’s room has a smoke alarm as well as a carbon monoxide alarm close to the bed. If your loved one is hard of hearing, installing an alarm that will also flash will help increase the chances of them seeing/hearing it in the case that it goes off. Finally, keep fresh batteries in all alarms throughout the house. A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries with the change of the season.
Having bedroom furniture that is not appropriately sized for your elderly loved one can become a big point of danger. The bed should be a height at which it is easy for the senior to easily get in or out of bed without having to stretch or bend over too far. Adding a chair to the room is a great way to increase your senior’s safety because they can sit in it while dressing.
Much like any other area in the home, make sure the carpet, laminate or floor boards are properly fastened to prevent tripping. In addition, put non-slip grip under any rugs to prevent them from sliding or curling up on the edges.
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