Five simple tips to make your parents’ home safe for their old age

In today’s age of the nuclear family, many retired couples prefer to live on their own rather than move in with children. However, it is worrying for children to leave their aged parents alone and move on.

One of the ways in which to ensure that they stay safe is to make sure that the house or flat they are living in is elderly-friendly. Doing this need not be a high-cost redecoration project but can be a well-timed, sensible and sensitive exercise. Here are a few pointers:

Say no to clutter

Your parents are likely to have gathered a whole lot of possessions over the years. They will be loath to get rid of it, for sentimental, nostalgic or other reasons. However, too many knick-knacks, over-crowded cupboards and overflowing lofts are not healthy. It generates dust and allergens. It makes them misplace important things, and it makes the house a nightmare to clear. Spend a weekend with your folks and just help them to de-clutter — re-organise cupboards, throw away junk, sell old and broken furniture, and clean the fridge. It’s the biggest help you can offer.

Sort it out

It’s not just the fridge. Medicine cabinets or linen cupboards, kitchen shelves and chest of drawers — make sure the elderly have everything in a specific place that is easy to remember and easy to reach. This is especially important for pills and ointments, and for cooking oils and spices.

Light it up

Install night lights in the bedrooms, bathrooms, corridors and stairways if any. This might be the time to get rid of the fancy mood lighting and settle for bright lights. Make sure they have good reading lights on their bedside tables and in the living room. Ensure the kitchen and bathrooms have fluorescent lights. Also, reading lights and night lights for the bedroom should have two-way switches that can be operated from the bed. Bathroom switches must be just outside the door.

Bathroom sense

This is the most dangerous room during old age. Prevent accidental falls by installing just one hand rail near the shower. Try and create a shower cabinet or separate shower space that can be curtained off, so that the rest of the bathroom stays dry. Get skid-proof floor mats for the bathroom to place near the shower and the washbasin.

Sleep easy

Install a simple alarm system near the bed that can be operated by pressing a button. If it can ring either in a neighbour’s home or your own if you live nearby, it can be used to summon help instantly in case of a nigh-time fall or illness.