Occupational Therapy and the Elderly: Living at Home Safely
Our parents are getting older and wish to stay in their home for as long as possible. We sometimes worry about their safety since their environment is often not adapted to their physical and cognitive disabilities, which evolve along with age and illness. For the elderly, the health benefits of staying in one’s home are well known, but the home needs to be safe.
Here are a few basic guidelines to make a home safer:
- Since seniors tend to shuffle, remove all small loose rugs and carpets (e.g.: in front of the sink and toilet).
- Wear non-slip shoes that offer good support.
- Ensure that moving spaces are sufficiently cleared in every room to accommodate, for example, the use of a walker.
- Install a handrail on each side of stairways.
- Use a bath board so that the person doesn’t have to step over the edge of the tub while standing and can take a shower sitting down.
- Install grab bars in the shower.
- Eliminate small uneven floor transitions such as thresholds between rooms.
- Store objects within reach to avoid climbing or raising arms too high.
- Ensure that medication is taken as prescribed.
Government programs are available to pay for some major renovations such as installing an access ramp or adapting a bathroom. Ask an occupational therapist about this.
Better safe than sorry!