(BPT) - Nearly 66 million people, or 29 percent of the U.S. adult population, are providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, according to the National Center for Caregiving. And, according to AARP, 61 percent of family caregivers who are 50-plus also work either full-time or part-time. How can busy caregivers gain peace of mind that their family member is happy and safe while they're working? There are easy home updates to help improve the safety and security of their living space.
Preparing a safe and happy home environment
Once you have determined the best place for your loved one to reside - whether they live independently, in an assisted living facility or in your home - you'll need to create a safe environment. You may enlist the assistance of a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) to make residential updates or, follow these simple tips to help make your family member's home a safe place for a lifetime.
Since most slips and falls occur in the bathroom - often while getting in and out of the tub or shower - AARP suggests adding grab bars, using non-skid mats on the tub or shower floors and installing a handheld showerhead for easier bathing. These simple adjustments can help avoid injury.
Moen Home Care products, such as the Designer Grab Bars with Accessories, combine the safety benefits of a grab bar with common bath essentials, including a towel bar, paper holder, straight shelf and a corner shelf, making each item functional and fashionable. Plus, each product is available in popular finishes, including chrome, brushed nickel and old world bronze, to coordinate with the rest of your bath.
Next, add protection in the shower with a shower chair or bench. Moen Home Care offers a variety of free-standing, ADA-compliant seating options that provide an extra level of safety and comfort. Or, for a more stylish upgrade to the traditional, neutral white finish, you may consider a Fold-Down Shower Seat. This design from Moen Home Care installs directly into the wall studs and folds down for a comfortable and secure shower seat - yet folds up for a thin, compact profile when not in use. Plus, the teak wood and stylish metal trim will accentuate the look of even the most upscale shower.
“We know caregivers have enough to worry about,” says Laurie Birko, brand manager for Moen Home Care. “Our products help make every bath a safe bath for their loved ones - while still maintaining a stylish look.”
For the final steps of the shower makeover, swap the fixed showerhead with a handheld version to allow for bathing in a seated position, and add suction accessories to hold the showerhead and other necessities at a lower spot for easy access.
Hallways and stairs
Researchers have found that by the time a person is 60 years old, he or she needs up to 15 times more light than they did at the age of 10 - and that is especially true in darker areas, such as hallways and stairs. Replace all hallway fixtures with higher wattage bulbs or brighter LED lights for added illumination. Also, add nightlights for any middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.
Do you have hand rails at all stairs to help avoid falls? For shorter staircases, such as the garage entry, nine-inch hand grips are an ideal solution, as they're easy to install and are available in a variety of finishes to complement any room.
Floors and furniture
To avoid tripping or bumping hazards - and to provide adequate room for walkers, canes or wheelchairs - move larger furniture against the wall to create more open walkways throughout the home. Remove loose rugs, or use double-sided tape to ensure they are securely anchored. Finally, be sure that any wires and cords are out of the way to prevent tripping and falls.
Like other rooms in the home, ensure there is adequate lighting, no loose rugs or tripping hazards in the bedroom. Other helpful additions include adding rails to the bed are helpful for getting in and out. Also, to help keep everything within arms' reach, create a bedside “command center” equipped with a telephone, clock, lamp and other necessities. Finally, place a commode near the bed if a bathroom is not nearby.
With a few simple updates you can create a home that is safe for your elder family members - giving you one less thing to worry about in your caregiver role.
For more information about bath safety products, visit www.moen.com/homecare or www.lowes.com. For a variety of caregiver resources, visit the Caregiving Resource Center at www.aarp.org.