How to Make a Home Safe for a Senior Diagnosed with Parkinson’s (Posted On: April 20,2016)
Small changes go a long way in making life easier and safer for your loved one.
When your senior has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, there are many discussions among family members about what’s best for him or her. If your loved one does not live with you, one of the first things to consider is making sure that his or her home is safe. This quick guide offers some recommended tips and ideas on ways to ensure safety that you can implement right away. Take a look:
1. Assess obstacles and potential dangers
A good first step is to take a look around your loved one’s home and assess anything that may pose a danger, like floor rugs, slippery tile or other surfaces, and obstacles that may block any paths. It’s a good idea to get rid of rugs altogether, unless you can anchor them securely to the floor. In addition, make sure that there are wide spaces between furniture that will allow your senior to move around freely. And avoid the use of space heaters and electric blankets, as these can be potential fire hazards in the home.
2. Add safety features in the bathroom
Because the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places for those with Parkinson’s, it’s important to get all of the necessary safety features in place for them as soon as possible. Add grab bars in the shower, a shower chair or stool, an elevated toilet seat (to help them get up easier), and non-slip bathmats, both inside the tub and on the floor. It’s not uncommon for individuals with Parkinson’s to lose their balance, so it’s also a good idea to put grab bars on the wall near the toilet so your loved one doesn’t have to resort to using a towel bar or the toilet paper holder to steady themselves. Luckily, there are a myriad of products to choose from that safety proof the bathroom, including:
- Grab bars
- Non-slip bathmats or safety tub treads
- Raised toilet seats or toilet safety rails
- Shower benches and stools
- Transfer benches
- Hand-held shower sprays
- Security poles
3. Increase lighting
More light will not only help ensure that your senior will be able to see well enough as he or she navigates around the house, but it’s also known to boost mood. Put nightlights in the bedroom, hallway, and bathroom to ensure that if you’re loved one has to get up during the night, he or she will be safe. Depression and anxiety are common symptoms of Parkinson’s, and adding a little more lighting can definitely help.
4. Give them a lift
For those with Parkinson’s, getting up from a sitting position is often a challenge. It’s a good idea to get rid of any chairs that have wheels or a swivel, because these are not only difficult to navigate, they also present a danger because of the balance issues caused by the disease. There are many products that can make it easier and safer to stand up, either from a chair or from the car, including risers to raise their favorite recliner. Suggestions include:
- Recliner risers
- EZ Stand and Go
- Couch cane
- Security poles
- Padded swivel seat cushion for the car
- Leg lifter
- Metro Car Handle
5. Clear away all clutter
Inside and out, those with Parkinson’s need to have a clutter-free home. Secure or group together any electrical cords and remove them from the floor, and ensure that there are no shoes or other items blocking the exits or entrances. Outside, check to make sure that the front entryway is clear of anything that may cause your loved one to trip and fall, including breaks or cracks in pavement. Add handrails and a ramp if necessary and make sure there’s ample lighting.
Your senior with Parkinson’s needs love, support, compassion, and to feel safe in his or her own home.