Making your aging parents’ home safer

The Associated Press
Saturday June 29, 2002

Baby Boomers aren’t getting any younger, and neither are their parents. 

Its a fact of life that many Boomers must shoulder the responsibility to care for the homes of their elderly parents. 

Yet according to the Lowe’s Home Safety Council, more than simple upkeep is involved. Because the elderly are more at risk for accidents, safety is a major consideration. 

With the elderly being targets of much-publicized home-improvement scam artists, Lowe’s recommends you first build a list of home-improvement specialists you trust. This removes your parents from high-pressure negotiation tactics and puts you in control. It’s not a bad idea to schedule a regular walk through the home with your home-improvement expert to review what work needs to be done — and for how much money. 

Next, pay close attention to the safety aspects of the home. 

In particular, the Lowe’s Home Safety Council identifies certain items you should red-flag for immediate action: 

n Are steps protected by hand railings and nonskid surfaces? 

n Are area rugs backed by rubber or two-sided tape to reduce slippage? 

n Do all interior light bulbs have enough wattage to illuminate portions of the home? 

n Are exterior portions of the home adequately lighted? This applies both to security and general lighting. 

n Install motion detectors to kick on exterior floodlights and lamps in some interior rooms. 

n Install railings in baths and showers. 

n Consider railings along hallway walls. 

n Are cracks and gaps in paving and sidewalks filled and smoothed? 

n Is there enough attic insulation and are all windows weatherproofed? 

n Adding storm doors is a good idea to protect parents from drafts. 

n Install both smoke- and carbon-dioxide detectors. Check the batteries regularly. Locate a fire extinguisher near the kitchen, and make sure your parents know how to use it properly. 

n Ask trusted neighbors to keep an eye on the house. Give them your phone and e-mail addresses. 

“When you help your parents take important safety measures in their home, you are not only ensuring the safety of your parents, but of everyone who comes into contact with the home, including visitors and grandchildren,” explains David Oliver, Lowe’s Home Safety Council Executive Director. “These steps lead to a more comfortable, convenient and secure living environment for the entire family.”