We don’t need researchers and surveys to know that most people want to live at home. Why wouldn’t we? It’s familiar, it’s safe, it’s ours. It’s the only place where we can really be ourselves, without having to perform or put a guard up. For seniors, reaching the point where you can no longer live at home is stressful and difficult. Fortunately, there are some simple things we can do around the home to keep it a safe and secure place for as long as possible.
Safety basics in the home
- First things first: are the smoke alarms in working order? Considering they’re not in the most easily accessible places, it’s usually a good idea to ask for help, or at least have someone hold the chair steady while you check them.
- Kitchens are potentially dangerous places. Make sure you have a fire blanket at the ready, preferably somewhere near the stovetop where hot oil can catch fire.
- Locks you can rely on always help us rest easier at night. An alarm system with a large, easy-to-use keypad is also an investment worth considering.
- Keep emergency numbers handy. Either print them in a large font and stick them somewhere visible, like the fridge, or have them easily accessible on your phone. Our wonderful, tech-savvy volunteers can help you with this.
De-clutter and remove trip hazards
Nearly 10% of ambulance callouts in Victoria are due to older people falling or tripping. We can’t remove the risk altogether, but we can reduce it. Make sure all passageways are clear of furniture and rugs that may bunch up.
You don’t have to be a hoarder to build a decent collection of household items over several decades. Now is a good opportunity to sort through them and decide which ones you want to keep. De-cluttering a house is much easier if there’s less furniture to move about. Close friends and family are always on the lookout for something vintage, and what they don’t want will find a new home via a garage sale.
The bathroom can be a particularly dangerous place when it comes to slippery surfaces. To make it as safe as possible, consider:
- using rubber mats on the floor, in the shower or in the bath rub;
- handrails by the toilet and in the shower;
- leaving the light on so there’s no fumbling for the switch during the night;
- a handheld shower head for easier cleaning;
- using a bathing chair in the shower.
Maintain a healthy, nutritious diet
One of the first blows to our independence as we age is the inability to provide ourselves with a healthy and tasty diet. Cooking one hot meal involves a multitude of activities. We have to walk, drive or catch public transport to the supermarket, navigate our way around the aisles, carry the shopping, make our way back home… and we haven’t even begun to prepare the meal, which of course involves knives and flames. There’s a lot of risk involved.
A lot of the time, people facing this dilemma see only two paths they can take: either they move into an aged care facility or they resign themselves to tea and toast every meal (not at all the wholesome, balanced diet we need as we get older).
But there is a third option, and that’s BASScare’s Meals on Wheels program. Our chefs menu specific aged care kitchen provides over 100 meals every day to members of the Boroondara community. These meals include a soup, a hot main and a dessert, and our magnificent chefs balance them perfectly for both flavour and nutrition.
Of course, the volunteers who deliver these meals to your doorstep aren’t just delivering a hot meal, but an essential check-up service. They’ll look in on you and make sure everything is in order.
We consider our Meals on Wheels program one of our most essential services, and key to members of our community maintaining their independence for as long as possible.