The day your mother is well enough to leave a short term rehab facility and return home should be filled with joy. Instead, for many people, it is a day filled with apprehension. There are a thousand unanswered questions about follow-up treatments, medication, and home care. But for many people, the biggest unanswered question is whether or not mom will be safe at home. While it may not be easy for an elderly parent to reacclimatize to life at home, especially if she lives alone, there are a few things you can do to help make sure that the transition is as safe and smooth as possible.
Reducing risks in a home's danger zones.
Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most dangerous rooms for seniors. Whether your mother will return to her own home or live with you, there are things you can do to make these danger zones safer for mom.
Bathroom safety: A third of all injuries seniors suffer occur at home, and the most dangerous room in the home is the bathroom where slippery floors and scalding hot water can cause serious injuries. It is important to make sure the bathroom your mother will use is retrofitted to provide a safe environment.
- Prevent falls with grab bars and non-slip mats. Installing quality non-slip mats inside the shower and on the bathroom floor can help your loved one avoid a fall. Adding grab bars beside the toilet and inside the shower can provide the support she needs. It is important that grab bars are installed correctly, so if you are in doubt, get a professional to do it for you.
- Avoid scalding water. Accidently getting burnt from hot water is a common problem for many seniors. It is easy to prevent excessive water temperatures by installing the same type of water temperature limiting device used in many elder care facilities. It is a good idea to install these devices on sinks, showers, and baths to protect your mom.
- Install proper lighting. Subdued lighting in the bathroom may be ideal for most people, but, for seniors, it can be dangerous. Lighting in the bathroom needs to be bright enough to allow your mother to easily spot any hazards, like puddles or discarded clothing, on the floor. It may even be a good idea to add a motion sensing device to prevent her from having to fumble for a light switch in the dark.
- Replace the toilet seat. A taller, easier to use toilet seat can help seniors from falling and can relieve pain for those with problems which restrict mobility.
Kitchen Safety: A third of all house fires in homes with seniors are started in the kitchen. And kitchens can pose health risks and be difficult for seniors with mobility issues to navigate. If you believe your mother has health-related issues which will make it difficult or dangerous for her to prepare food in the kitchen, find a suitable alternative before bringing her home.
- Reorganize the kitchen. It is important your mother is able to easily access the refrigerator, counters, sink and appliances. Store everyday items where they are easily found and be aware that you may need to otherwise rearrange the kitchen to create an accessible space for her to do kitchen tasks.
- Remove unnecessary items from the kitchen: The less cluttered the space, the easier it will be for your mom to use the essential parts of the kitchen. Keep only the essential cutlery and knives. Stow away heavy pots, pans and unneeded small appliances. Consider the possibility of removing garbage disposals to reduce the chance of injury. Try to keep the floor clear to help prevent falls.
Other safety ideas:
- Provide a mobile or cordless phone to make it easy for your mom to call for assistance.
- Make sure smoke and CO2 detectors are working.
- Safeguard medications.
- Set the thermostat at a temperature that will keep mom comfortable.
With proper care, and steady support, your mother will be able to readjust to living at home after spending time in a short term rehab facility.