Monday, April 6, 2009

More safety tips for elderly parents at home

Ah - a few minutes to myself in the afternoon sunshine... So I'll take the time to write a few more things that we've done to make Mom's home safer:

Turn down the water heater: Mom's skin is quite thin and so seems more sensitive to hot, cold, pressure and even rough surfaces. To prevent burns we turned down the hot water heater to 100 degrees. It seems cool to me but she's quite comfortable in the shower; the tub is not an option any longer since she can't get out of it.

Drawers and drawer pulls: We replaced the drawer pulls on Mom's cabinets and bedroom furniture so it's easier for her to open the drawers with swollen bent fingers.

Use easy glide drawers, automatic closing drawers or drawer stops: Innovations in cabinetry make for safer kitchens. See your local home improvement store for these gadgets that make for easier opening and closing.

Sort through drawers and remove heavy items and clutter: Remove heavy clutter and, if possible, move the most used things to the front of drawers. This prevents a situation where a heavy drawer is pulled out to far and falls onto the floor or worse yet, an arthritic foot.

Use rubber shower pads in the shower and out: We got a couple of rubber shower mats - the kind with the little suction cups on the back - and installed one inside the shower stall and on the floor where Mom walks most. This helps her get traction getting into and out of the shower. The mat we found - at KMart - has a sort of beveled edge so that it gradually rises from the floor, suction cups ensure it won't slip.

Use rubber shower pad between a bed and commode or potty chair: The same rubber shower mat mentioned prevents falls when Mom gets up during the night. Placed on the slick hardwood floor right where she steps out of bed to turn and use a commode.

Replace buttons with snaps or velcro: Mom can no longer slip buttons into button holes, arthritis has robbed her fine motor skills. I stitched all the button holes closed, applied large snaps to the garments then stitched the buttons OVER the top of the old button hole so it appears as thought she's wearing her usual button front blouses. Your local one-stop fabric & sewing shop should have tools that help apply snaps so you can save time stitching things together.