If you’re struggling to think of the perfect holiday gift for an older family member or friend that’s going to be appreciated but not be one more thing to have lying around, why not give them a home safety makeover? Many of the things that can be done are inexpensive or free, they just require time and tools. Your loved one may have a “to do” list of odd jobs just waiting for someone to do them. This would be a perfect gift for a grandchild to give a grandparent.
Give the home a safety inspection. Make sure there are fresh batteries in all smoke detectors, carpets are securely fastened, and screws haven’t come loose from handrails. Install extra lighting in areas that are dark to prevent stumbles and falls. If installing permanent lighting isn’t an option, battery operated lights can be used anywhere and they give off plenty of light. Additional handrails may need to be installed on stairways if balance is an issue and the person continually needs to have a hand on the opposite wall.
Check the security in the home. This doesn’t have to mean an expensive security system with a monthly subscription service. Make sure there are good, solid locks on all outside doors and windows. Small security systems that aren’t tied to a subscription service can be bought online or at electronics stores. These have cameras that can be mounted indoors or out and allow users to check the video anytime on a smartphone app. This can save someone a trip downstairs to check the front door, especially in the middle of the night.
Make any necessary energy efficiency improvements. Make sure storm windows close securely and don’t have cracks. Seal small holes in window and door frames with caulk and make sure the weather-stripping around them doesn’t have gaps. An insulation blanket around the water heater is easy to install and will make a difference on the utility bills. Windows that leak can be covered using plastic insulation kits to seal in warm air.
If your loved one has mobility issues, see if things can be rearranged to accommodate living on one floor. Furniture can be moved to allow an unused dining room to be converted into a bedroom. A larger washer and dryer can be sold to buy a smaller stackable unit that might fit in the kitchen or bathroom.
Make any necessary changes so the house is more accessible and user friendly. Easy grip knobs and larger drawer pulls in the kitchen are better for people who have arthritis, as are levers or control arm taps for sinks. A grab bar on the bathtub makes getting in and out of the tub more secure. A ramp can be built easily to allow a wheelchair or scooter to enter the home. Technology has made great strides in the last few years to help people with mobility issues use items around their homes. Voice assistants like Alexa or Google Home can be set up to run thermostats, turn lights on and off, make phone calls, and create grocery lists. They’re available for under $100.
If your loved one is even a little tech savvy, consider helping them set up online banking, bill paying, and grocery shopping. This will help cut down on errands and will help them stay on top of things. This will also make it easier on others who may have to take over their finances in case of a medical emergency.
Many of these tasks are easy to do on your own, but some might require outside help, such as building ramps or installing new windows. Be sure any outside contractors you hire have references and are licensed, if necessary. The point of the project is to increase the safety in your loved one’s home, so you don’t want to compromise that with shoddy craftsmanship. Be sure to check references; seniors are easy targets for con artists and there are so many horror stories in the media about elderly people who have had their savings wiped out by door-to-door scammers posing as roofers or other construction workers. Be sure to get everything in writing and don’t pay the full price until the job has been completed to your satisfaction.
More and more people choose to age in place today, but as they age they sometimes need help. Whether your loved one needs a little help a few times a week with housekeeping and errands or more assistance on a daily basis, Assisting Hands Schaumburg offers the help you need to help them stay in place as long as possible. We provide a wide range of in-home care and elderly home care services and all of our caregivers are carefully screened to ensure our staff provides the highest levels of care and compassion. Our caregivers can help with errands, transportation, light housekeeping, personal hygiene assistance, respite care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and much more. Our senior home health care services allow your loved one to stay in the home they love, and continue their daily activities, for as long as possible.