Top 10 checklist: Keep your aging parents safe in their home

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Heading home to visit with your aging parents for the holidays? It might be a perfect opportunity to do a visual inspection of their home to ensure it is safe.

Many adult children worry about their aging parents. As your parents enter their golden years, it’s important to check if their home is safe or if there are any potential hazards and safety issues. 

The following checklist will help you identify any red flags but being prepared to talk to your parent afterward. Be honest and truthful and decide in advance what you’re going to say. Begin by asking if they’ve noticed any of the issues you found. Tell them you’re concerned and give a few examples why.  

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you and your loved one don’t have to go it alone. There are many different types of professionals and service providers that can help make things easier.

Top 10 checklist for ensuring your aging parents remain safe in their home:
1. Living areas – look for clutter and other trip hazards, especially slippery or frayed rugs.
2. Staircases – check staircases for adequate lighting, that they are free from clutter, that handrails are properly installed and there are no loose stair treads.
3. Bathrooms – look for any fall hazards. Do they have non-slip rubber mats, grab bars or a shower chair? Verify that the hot and cold faucets are clearly labeled.
4. Bedroom – look for clutter and other trip hazards. Check to ensure the room has adequate lighting and night lights to illuminate the route to the bathroom.  
5. Medications – check expiration dates and labels to make sure that any medications no longer in use are properly disposed of.
6. Food – check the refrigerator for expired or spoiled foods. Suggest moving the most-used items from high cabinets, and store at waist level.  
7. Safety – check smoke detectors and that fire extinguishers are within reach.
8. Unexplained weight loss – sudden and unexpected weight loss could indicate a serious health issue.
9. Change in hygiene and stamina - There are many reasons a senior might be experiencing this, ranging from medical issues to difficulty keeping up with daily chores.
10. A messy, cluttered home - Dirty dishes in the sink, spoiled food, accumulated rubbish, neglected laundry, and filthy bathrooms can all be signs that your parent needs more support maintaining their living quarters.

If you have questions about your parent’s safety, speak to their health care provider. If you need a health care provider, click here.