Visiting Your Senior Parents Over the Holidays? Check In on Them With This Senior Safety and Wellbeing Checklist

by | Nov 7, 2022 | Seniors

As our parents get older, it’s normal to worry, especially if they live alone. Are they at risk for falls or other injuries? Do they have a chronic illness that must be managed – and are they able to manage it on their own? How capable are they of preparing nutritious daily meals? It’s a lot to think about, but we’ve created this downloadable Senior Safety and Wellbeing Checklist that can take you through every room of the house, quickly and efficiently checking for potential hazards and signs that something isn’t right.

Not going home for the holidays? Here are 5 apps that can help you check on your parents from another state.

The Potential Dangers of Aging Adults Living Alone

Falls and Other Injuries

You might not think your parents are at risk for falls, especially if it’s never happened before, but falls are the leading cause of injuries among adults aged 65 and older. In 2014, approximately 27,000 seniors died due to falls, and 2.8 million had to be treated in the ER for a fall-related injury. As we get older, our muscles weaken, our bones become more brittle, and our eyesight and hearing can get worse, leading to a higher risk for falls and other household accidents – for even the most active seniors.

Medication Mismanagement

As we get older, we often have to take more medications to manage various conditions. It’s truly wonderful that we live in an age where medical advancement allows us to live longer, healthier lives – but medications only work if taken correctly. Many older adults experience cognitive decline, which can cause them to forget if they’ve taken their daily medication or not. Even the mild cognitive decline that happens to almost everyone – being a little more forgetful than you used to be – can cause medication mishaps, with potentially dire consequences.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition in older adults living alone is also sometimes caused by cognitive decline. Individuals may forget to eat, or may think they’ve already eaten. Malnutrition in seniors is also often caused by the inability to prepare or access a nutritious meal. 

Mental Health Risks

Seniors living alone are at a higher risk for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, loneliness, and social isolation. One study found that social isolation in older adults is linked to a 50% increased risk of dementia, heart failure, and premature death.

Assess the Situation

Your parents might be fine on their own, and it’s understandable if they feel like they have to stay in their house to maintain their independence – it’s a common misconception. Maybe they’re doing perfectly well aging in place, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can assess their level of home safety and wellbeing with the following checklist. 

If you’re going home to visit your family over the holidays, it’s the perfect time to make sure everything is ok at your parents’ home. You can download this checklist and access it on your device, or even print it out. Just don’t forget to bring it with you, so you can ensure that you’ve covered every detail when it comes to your parents’ safety.

Senior Safety and Wellbeing Checklist

Kitchen

  • Is there a fire extinguisher? Do your parents know how to use it?
  • Are items on shelves out of reach? Do your parents have a safe way to reach items – like a grabber or a senior safety step stool?
  • Observe your parents when they’re in the kitchen – do they ever forget to turn off a stove burner? If so, consider purchasing an automatic stove shut-off device, like FireAvert.
  • Are cabinets and drawers easy to open?
  • Is there good lighting over countertop, stove, and sink work areas?
  • Is there spoiled food in the refrigerator or in the cabinets?
  • Is the trash piling up? Does it look as though it’s not been taken out in a while?

Bathroom

  • How do your parents manage their medications? Do they have pill cases, apps, timers, or other devices that can help them remember when to take medications? Do they seem to have any trouble with remembering to take their medications?
  • Are your parents able to lift themselves in and out of the tub or step in and out of the shower safely? Are there safety bars installed in the tub or shower and around the toilet?
  • Are there adhesive safety grips installed in the bottom of the tub?
  • Are bath mats securely adhered to the floor with anti-slip rug grips, like these?
  • Are there any fire or electrical hazards, like too many electronic devices plugged into one outlet or power strip, or plugged into outlets very close to water? Be sure devices are unplugged when not in use!
  • Is the toilet seat low, making it hard to stand up? If so, install a toilet seat extender or consider purchasing a toilet with a higher seat.
  • As we get older, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive. Consider setting your parents’ hot water heater to 120 degrees F or installing an anti-scalding device to prevent scalding when using water in the home.

Bedroom

  • Is the bed easy to get in and out of? If not, consider purchasing bed risers or a shorter bed.
  • Is the bedroom upstairs, and, if so, do the stairs make it more difficult to get to the bedroom? If this is the case, your parents may want to consider making a room downstairs their bedroom instead.

Outdoors

  • Are the steps leading into the home in good repair, with no loose stones or concrete, or rotted wood?
  • Is there a ramp installed? Would a ramp be safer and more convenient for your parents?
  • Do outdoor lights turn on automatically when it gets dark?
  • Are outdoor walkways clear of debris?

General

  • Are there smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout the house? Have they been tested recently? Test alarms monthly, and replace batteries annually. Replace alarms every ten years.
  • Do your parents have a fire escape plan in place?
  • Are the floors kept tidy of all loose paper, magazines, mail, books, bags, and other trip hazards?
  • Are electric cords and other trip hazards out of pathways? Do not keep cords under rugs, but close to the wall and out of walking areas. This not only prevents trips, but electrical fires, as well.
  • Are all the areas of the home kept well-lit, including basements, attics, and closets?
  • Ensure that all rugs are safely secured to the floor with anti-slip adhesive rug grips.
  • If the home has stairs, install secure safety rails and make sure that lighting is adequate. Carpet can also make stairs safer. If necessary, install an electric stair lift to make getting up and down the stairs easier for older adults.
  • Are there any unpaid bills in drawers or around the home? Your parents may be forgetting to pay bills, or may be having financial problems.
  • Does anything in the home or yard look neglected – dirty floors or counters, dirty dishes piled up, overgrown yard, etc.?

By going through this room-by-room checklist, you can make sure your parents are happy, healthy, and safe. We hope that this checklist gives you peace of mind this holiday season!

Better Safe Than Sorry

When your parents start to get older, you (understandably!) start to worry, but, as it often is with family, it can be a delicate situation. No one wants to feel like they’re losing their independence. With this safety and wellbeing checklist, you can discreetly check in on your parents, and ensure that their home is a safe and healthy place for them. 

Maintain Independence at Eagle Flats Village

Getting older comes with certain risks, and sometimes it’s much safer for the individual to accept assistance, whether that’s by living with a family member, receiving daily check-in visits, or moving into a senior living community. We understand the myriad of emotions that can come with leaving for a new home. Seniors moving into a community often experience grief and apprehension – and worry that they’ll lose their independence, but at Eagle Flats Village, we do everything we can to make sure that’s not the case. 

While we do offer assisted living services like assistance with activities of daily living, medication management, 24/7 medical care, and more, we also offer private apartments, homey communal spaces, local transportation, three nutritious, chef-inspired meals every day, housekeeping and laundry services, and plenty of activities and events to keep residents engaged, healthy, and having fun. We believe that just because our residents need a little extra help every now and then, that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to stop living life. We pride ourselves on fostering a vibrant, friendly, and welcoming community.

If you’d like to learn more about Eagle Flats Village, or schedule a tour to see our community and meet the people who call Eagle Flats home, contact us online or give us a call at 940-552-8181. We look forward to hearing from you!

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