In last month's newsletter, I explored the primary reasons for why seniors choose to remain in their home. Providing their health and safety are not compromised, they prefer to maintain their dignity and independence in the familiarity of their surroundings.

They may not be considering long-term care facilities at this point, but are experiencing physical and/or cognitive weakness. These may include: compromised balance, short-term memory loss, inability to manage activities of daily living (ADLs).

These are concerns that should be discussed among the person's healthcare professionals and family members. All efforts should be made to maintain one's safety by obtaining additional supports and services that mitigate any potential risks.

Here are 4 recommendations to promote safety within the home:

1. Home modifications. There is a possibility that one's physical and mental health may decline as he or she continues to live at home. Adaptive equipment and other alterations to the living space can compensate for specified physical impairments and limitations. Grab bars, walk-in shower and widened doorways are a few suggestions that promote safety within the home and minimize fall risks.

2. Additional support. An elderly person with physical and/or cognitive limitations may require a support network that provides companionship, homemaking, hygiene and other necessary care giving. Others can help fulfill the necessary tasks and responsibilities that the person can no longer perform. Family members, Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) or friends can help meet those needs. 

3. Lifeline or home monitoring system. Someone who has a specific medical condition or whose physical stamina and balance are compromised should invest in a Lifeline or remote monitoring system. Medical personnel and family members can be notified immediately in the event that he or she sustain an accident or sudden illness.
These safeguards minimize the risk of the individual not receiving timely medical care.

4. Emergency contact list. It is wise to have a detailed list of important telephone numbers posted in a visible area such as a refrigerator or white board. This serves two purposes. First, it may be difficult for the individual to remember all the phone numbers of his or her doctors, service providers and family members. Also, in the case of an emergency, first responders can immediately access the list and call the appropriate people.

Seniors who choose to live in the comfort and familiarity of their own home can enjoy its many benefits while remaining safe and stable. These suggestions are by no means exhaustive, but they do offer greater safety measures and peace of mind for both the individual and their families. Keeping our loved ones safe is one of many important gifts we can give them.