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"Dear Jayne, How do I keep my father safe at home?”

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My father lives on his own—he likes his independence—but I’m beginning to worry. He’s moving slower than he used to, and I worry that his house might not be properly equipped to ensure he is safe. What can I do to help keep him safe at home?

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I understand how you must feel. It can be frustrating to see a loved one who once lived so independently, now struggling to care for their home and for themselves.

If you’re worried about your dad’s safety, it’s important to bring it up with him and take some basic safety measures.

First and foremost, as with any health and safety concerns its important to have your loved one assessed by a doctor. If falls are a concern, there are a number of exercises he can do right in his own home that can help improve balance.  Also, just a few simple adjustments around the home can make a big difference.

Here are two balance exercises Krystee Knapic, Corporate Director of Programs, uses with our Benchmark residents:  

  1. Toe to Heel Rocks: In a seated position, place a cushion under the feet. Rock feet forward and backward by pressing toes and heels firmly into the cushion.  
  2. Knee Raise and Balance: Sit on top of a cushion. Contract abdominal muscles, raise arms to the sides and slowly lift one knee. Focus on maintaining balance and correct posture while holding the position for a few seconds. Return to starting position and repeat using the other side.

And for the home, Michael Perkins, Benchmark’s Safety Manager, tells me there are a few key things you can do to safety-proof your dad’s living space.

Start by making sure that there are no hazards that might make moving around the house difficult, for example tripping on area rugs or trailing cables, or climbing steep stairs. If stairs are unavoidable, you might want to change a few things to make mobility easier—for example, installing a stair lift or ramps. For the bathroom, consider adding support bars or picking up a bath chair at your local pharmacy.

Consider installing smoke and CO2 alarms in each room, too, and giving your dad a medical alert system. These personal alarms can be so helpful for people who are worried about falling or feel insecure while home alone. Click here to see a listing of the tips Mike typically shares with families who are inquiring.

Mike says one of the most important considerations in choosing safety systems is ease of us. “When you need help, it should be as easy as pressing a button on the medical alert bracelet or necklace and you’ll be connected with an emergency operator who is a trained emergency care specialist.” After all, during an emergency it be a challenge to find a phone and dial a number.

Another tip to help your dad is to prepare for bad weather. Make sure someone is lined up to shovel and de-ice when a storm hits. One trip to the curb to grab the mail or newspaper before ice and snow are removed could be too much. Make sure your dad has enough fuel and can afford his utility bills so that he can keep warm through the winter. Keep his kitchen well-stocked with non-perishables in case he can’t get out and about easily.

I hope that helps. For more advice and information on care in your own home, contact me and our team at Benchmark Senior Living at 888-729-0035 and ask about our Live Well at Home Program.

Having a little extra support can make a huge difference to seniors living in their own homes, and keeping them safe and secure can help bring peace of mind to you and your family.

Until next time,

Jayne

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Jayne Sallerson is a warm, enthusiastic and compassionate executive with a heart for working with seniors. Jayne has been in senior care for more than 20 years and she says, “I still love what I do.” At Benchmark Senior Living, Jayne now serves as Executive Vice President. A native of New England, Jayne loves to travel, meet new people, and hang out with her favorite pug, Henry.
Jayne started this blog as a way to share the many questions she and her team get every day with other people looking for answers.