When Mom returns home from a stay in short-term rehab following an injury or extended illness, you want to do everything you can to help her get back on her feet and prevent a return trip. If Mom is living on her own, you want to take the time to make sure that her home is safe and beneficial to her recovery.
Make Mom’s Home a Safe Haven
It’s important to make Mom feel secure and confident in her home—and for you to know she’s safe, even when you can’t be with her. Here are a few general safety checks that can help make sure Mom’s home is a help and not a hindrance to her recovery:
- Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries and are in good working order. Also, make sure these devices are in areas where Mom spends a lot of her time, such as the bedroom, living room, or kitchen, so she can hear them if they do go off.
- Assess potential tripping hazards in Mom’s usual path through the home. Are there rugs that move around when you step on them? Handrails that are not firmly affixed to the wall? Use tape, tacks, or non-skid backing to keep hazardous rugs in place and take a few minutes to fix loose handrails.
- Ensure there are multiple fire extinguishers throughout the house that Mom can easily access. Double-check that the extinguishers are light enough for Mom to lift and use, and that she remembers how to use one in the event of a fire.
- Consider an emergency monitoring device—such as Life Alert®—that can quickly contact emergency services or the police in the event of a fall or other accident.
- Make sure there are easily accessible phones throughout the house that Mom can find quickly in the event of an emergency. If she has vision impairment, invest in phones with large numbers to make dialing easy.
- If Mom has decreased mobility due to her recent accident or illness, consider installing a ramp or lift to make moving between levels of her home safe.
After you’ve addressed these general safety concerns, move on to potential problem areas in the house.
Problem Area #1: The Bathroom
The bathroom can be a dangerous area for anyone, regardless of their age. For seniors, it is a common place for slips and falls. The following updates can help keep Mom safe:
- Taller toilet. This can make it easier for Mom to get on and off the toilet, decreasing her chance of falling or stumbling.
- Grab bars. Often installed at the entrance of the shower and next to the toilet, these help Mom steady herself and prevent falls.
- Rubber mats. Stuck to the floor of the bathtub or shower stall, rubber mats or decals can reduce the slickness of the shower and decrease the chance of Mom suffering a fall.
- Shower seat. Once Mom has made it safely into the shower, provide her a safe place to sit if she needs to rest, becomes dizzy or otherwise uneasy during her shower.
- Lower water temperature. To avoid accidental scalds, turn Mom’s water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Problem Area #2: The Kitchen
The kitchen is another area of the home where accidents frequently occur. Check out these kitchen safety tips for ways that you can keep Mom safe as she uses her kitchen:
- Make sure there is adequate lighting. Poor lighting is a major contributor to injuries in the home, so make sure Mom has enough lighting in the kitchen to prepare her meals and snacks. If overhead lights are too dim, mount a few stick-on lights beneath cabinets.
- Mark “on” and “off” clearly on gadgets. Ensure that the “on” and “off” switches on the oven, toaster, coffee maker, and other kitchen appliances are all clearly marked.
- Use smart storage options. Store heavier pots and pans at waist level so Mom can easily retrieve them without straining her back or losing her balance while lifting.
- Check expiration dates. We’re all guilty of buying something and forgetting about it in the back of the fridge from time to time. Make sure Mom doesn’t have any food on hand that could be hazardous to her health if eaten.
When Mom returns home from rehab, help her readjust to everyday life safely and confidently with these quick safety checks. It will give you both peace of mind.