Making homes safe for seniors

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SEATTLE -- As our parents and grandparents age, it can be tough to want to keep them safe in the home, while also giving them the space to maintain their independence. But Kristi Larson, owner of the local Home Instead Senior Care franchises, says it's important to be proactive, considering the most common cause of hospital visits for seniors are trips and falls. These accidents, she points out, can in many cases be prevented.

We had Kristi walk us through the kitchen and the bathroom of her parents' home to point out the potential safety issues we can easily be addressing. From bathmats (put down adhesives to keep it from slipping), to area rugs (roll them up and take them away altogether if they slide around easily), there are a few simple things we can do to keep our senior family members safe.

Below are some pointers from Kristi on a few specific rooms in the house, things that you can get started on now. Additionally, there are free resources available by clicking HERE, including a free home safety checklist. Home Instead Senior Care's team of experts can be reached by calling 206-622-4663.

In the kitchen:

  • Check for expired foods. "As we age, our sense of smell and taste can decrease," Kristi says. That means it can be harder for seniors to be able to tell when food has gone bad. The recommendation? Label food/leftovers as it goes in to the refrigerator, so that there is never any question as to when it was packaged up.
  • Wax and glossy treatments on the floors are a no-no; slippery surfaces mean it's easier to fall!
  • Consider how food, pots and pans, and other items are stored. Do they need a step stool to reach anything? If so, it may be time to reorganize. Cupboards with shelves that can easily slide out make it easier to find what you're looking for.

In the bathroom:

  • Consider adding grab bars near the bathtub/shower, and toilet
  • Loose towel or curtain rods need to be tightened in case someone happens to grab it mid-fall
  • Make sure medications are easily accessed

In the hallway:

  • Check that there's an easy-to-use railing along any stairs
  • Remove tripping hazards (area rugs can be rolled up and stored; remove any clutter
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