As you step into the role of caregiver, you may find that managing the physical and emotional health of a loved one also includes managing the safety of the home in which the loved one lives. Now that you are responsible for making sure your aging relative has everything they need to be healthy and comfortable, it’s critical to know what to look for.
Below are 10 things to check for to ensure the safety of your loved one’s home. You may want to modify this list depending on the unique circumstances of your loved one and the home you are inspecting.
- Food and water. Inspect the fridge and pantry; is there an ample amount of nutritious food and clean drinking water available? It will be a good idea to keep the fridge stocked and to keep some canned goods and other non-perishables to save a trip to the store in case of emergency or severe weather.
- Prescriptions. Of course, as the caregiver you may be in charge of managing your loved one’s medications. Keep detailed records of what medications the doctor recommends, where they are stored and when you need to refill them.
- Gas. It is a good idea to periodically inspect the gas stove to make sure the pilot light is working and that no gas is leaking in the house.
- Fire extinguisher. Make sure the home has a working extinguisher in case of a fire.
- Light bulbs. While they may not admit it, your loved one’s eyesight might not be what it once was. Check the home to ensure that all rooms are well-lit to avoid accidents.
- Detectors and alarms: Periodically check and test the home’s carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, home security alarms and any other devices. Replace batteries as needed.
- Stairs. Loose railings or rickety floorboards on the stairs can cause serious accidents if left unchecked. If the stairs need work, don’t put it off.
- Furnace. Furnace filters should be replaced every three months at the least – although every month is recommended.
- Windows and doors. Do a full home inspection to ensure that wind can’t make it through any cracks in the doors, frames or window panes.
- Leaking water. Get into the habit of checking drains and pipes for water leaks. Pay close attention to areas around sinks, bathtubs and toilets.
With time, performing safety checks of your loved one’s home will become second nature – but until then, a list can be a good way to make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Charlie Nadler is a community education writer for Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services. CMSS is the most extensive senior services network on Chicago’s north side, providing services such as senior home care, assisted living, and more.