Q: How can I help my aging loved one remain safe and independent in their home?
Helping your aging loved one remain safe and independent in their home involves identifying health risk factors, recognizing potential safety hazards in the home, making necessary home or activity modifications, and accessing local resources for support.
The following are common health risk factors that may affect an aging adult’s independence and safety at home:
-Chronic medical conditions (such as heart problems, arthritis, diabetes, or stroke)
-Recent illness or hospitalization
-Cognitive changes (such as memory problems)
-Taking four or more medications
Falls are the leading cause of injury, hospitalizations, and death in older adults. In order to prevent falls, it is important to recognize potential safety hazards in the home. These may include:
-Tripping hazards (such as clutter, throw rugs, or electrical cords)
-Slipping hazards (including improper footwear, wet or slick bathroom surfaces)
-Need for adaptive equipment or assistive devices (such as a shower chair, reacher, or walker)
-Lack of a personal emergency response system
An occupational therapist can assist you and your loved one by assessing home safety and provide appropriate recommendations and interventions. These might include training on low cost and simple home and activity modifications and the use of adaptive equipment. A physical therapist can assess balance, mobility, and home accessibility and provide appropriate recommendations and interventions that may include use of an assistive device to decrease the risk of falls. A speech language pathologist can assess cognitive functioning including memory and problem solving and provide recommendations or interventions to maximize safety and independence while aging in place.
If you have concerns about you or your aging loved one’s safety and independence while aging in place at home, talk to your primary care provider about a referral to occupational, physical, or speech therapies.
For more information on how our Therapy & Wellness team can assist your family please call: 218.283.5420