June is National Home Safety Month — a great time to evaluate the safety of your aging loved one’s living quarters, whether they live in your home, in their own home, or in an assisted living facility. Regardless of the living arrangements, safety hazards could still be lurking in inconspicuous places.
GTR Newspapers does a nice job of summing up some common — but frequently overlooked — hazards that could be potentially dangerous for those you care about. The article quotes Andrew Garrean, owner of the Tulsa area’s local Home Instead Senior Care franchise, who notes that the elderly have both a lifetime of accumulated possessions and the same daily influx of junk mail that we all deal with: catalogs, magazines, newspapers. And if your loved one hesitates to discard unused or old items, that can spell disaster as clutter builds, increasing the risk for both fires and falls.
Look for signs of clutter in your loved one’s home, such as piles of unopened mail, cluttered closets, jammed kitchen drawers, cluttered kitchen cabinets, and stockpiles of never-used items in attics or other storage areas. If your loved experiences frustration when he tries to organize, that’s also an indication of a potential clutter problem.
How to help your loved one eliminate clutter
You can help your loved one maintain safety in their home or other setting by helping them clean out clutter. If your family member is resistant to throwing away items, insist that they be reorganized, moved to storage, or relocated to a location that won’t pose a fall or fire risk.
Make sure rugs have rubber backing so they won’t slide, or remove them altogether. Never allow cords to run across the flow of traffic, whether across a hallway, through a doorway, or across a room — even if under a rug.
Knick knacks and excess furniture should also be removed to improve the flow of traffic. You shouldn’t have to navigate around furniture to move from one room to another; ensure there’s a clear path. Knick knacks can be easily broken and hard for an elderly person to clean up, so they then pose a cutting risk as well as the possibility of slipping or tripping on shattered pieces.
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