Is Mom Really Safe in Her Home? Chances Are the Answer Is No

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Is Mom Really Safe in Her Home? Chances Are the Answer Is No

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While many older adults live in senior apartments and enjoy it, it often takes a few years for an elderly person to get accustomed to the idea of selling a family home. But it may not be safe to just wait until mom is ready to move. While many elderly people do just fine living alone, as they get older, the dangers of living alone often increase. But it isn’t hard to determine if mom is starting to need more help.

Here are five dangers that mom may face at home that may indicate it’s time to consider finding a better living arrangement.

1. Dangerous Disorder

Of course, the house doesn’t have to be pristine to be a safe, comfortable environment for mom or dad. However, your elderly parent does have to be capable of certain tasks in order to live alone. They must be able to:

  • Lift and carry trash bags.
  • Reach and stoop to clean up crumbs, spills, or clutter.
  • Carry laundry baskets and reach into machines.

Even older adults who find it difficult to clean can, however, still live alone safely—with the right senior service. Some elderly people simply need a weekly cleaning woman to come in to clean, like tubs, toilets, and vacuuming. However, not being able to manage basic, simple chores like taking out the trash or doing laundry means that it may be time to reevaluate mom's living situation.

These indications are not a matter of personal cleanliness. They are a matter of safety. Insects and rodents are attracted to crumbs or overfull garbage cans and can carry disease; out of control clutter could cause a dangerous fall for an elderly person.

2. Hazardous House Quirks

Bathtubs, stairs, and even throw rugs can present a hazard for an older adult who struggles with balance or mobility issues. While it may be easy enough to take up an area rug, older homes frequently have bedrooms upstairs, and stairs can be difficult for some older people to navigate. Even stepping over the rim of the bathtub to clean up every day can become more difficult.

Installing safety features like a grab bar in the bathroom may be a simple stop-gap measure, but there comes a time when the little quirks of a house—uneven floorboards, narrow staircases, rooms that sit at a slant—lose their charm and become plain unsafe for elderly residents.

3. Nutritional Issues

Elderly people may have a hard time eating correctly. A diminishing sense of taste, grocery stores that are so big that it's hard to shop, teeth that are in need of dental care, and just simply being too tired to cook and clean up can all work together to deprive an older person of the nutritionally sound meals they so desperately need to be strong and healthy.

Some older people may even need someone looking in on them every single day to make sure that they are eating enough of the right kinds of food. Not getting enough healthy food will make seniors weak and more likely to contract illnesses.

4. Mental Confusion

If your elderly parent is showing the first signs of cognitive decline—it’s more than just their health that will be at risk. They may be a prime target for those who like to prey on the elderly. These shady characters may take advantage of mom's trusting nature, asking her for "loans" or payment for poorly done work on the home. Untrustworthy house cleaners may steal valuable items like jewelry and collectibles or even take cash from mom's purse. If your mother is getting increasingly confused, she may think she has simply mislaid these items. Or, alternatively, mom can misplace items and accuse service people of taking them, straining the family’s relationship with these necessary service providers.

Additionally, these bouts of forgetfulness can be dangerous if mom is on certain medications. Some medicines have to be taken a certain way lest they lose effectiveness or cause an adverse reaction. If mom frequently gets her pills mixed up, it may be time to start looking at senior apartments.

5. Physical Impairments or Diseases

Diseases that affect motor control, like Parkinson's, can make living at home very dangerous for older adults. Recurring strokes, heart problems, and dementia are other conditions that need extra attention. Elderly people facing these illnesses will, very likely, need a progressive amount of in-home care. And if you can’t be on call 24/7, checking into assisted living or other senior care arrangements is essential.

Senior apartments are a long way from the depressing nursing home of yore. They offer enjoyment, friendship, security, and safety. Start the discussion with your elderly loved one today about how these fantastic places to live can bring peace of mind for the whole family.

Worried about a loved one?  Download our tipsheet to decide if it's time to talk about senior care.

Bryan Reynolds
July 04, 2015
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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