Elderly Parents Home Care Safety

Ten Steps to Creating a Safe Kitchen

Kitchens are considered one of the most dangerous areas of a home, for children and for seniors. Many accidents and falls occur in the kitchen due to a range of common scenarios: cooking fires, grease and spills on the floor, reaching for objects, appliance injuries, inappropriate objects placed in a microwave.

Many caregivers of individuals suffering from cognitive disorders or conditions will attest to the potential possibility of a parent to harm him or herself with the darnedest things. Keeping the kitchen a safe and secure environment for the elderly isn’t always easy, but it can be accomplished through a series of steps.

Making the Kitchen Safe

Tackle the kitchen one layer at a time: floors, cupboards, counter tops, appliances, overhead cupboards, etc. Look at the kitchen with a critical eye and realize that what may seem perfectly harmless to you may be a potential threat to your elderly father, who uses a cane, or your Mom, who’s suffering from a cognitive disorder like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Be wary of dangerous objects and substances that you take for granted. This can mean anything from the blender on your counter to the cleaning supplies stored under the sink. Instead of ‘baby-proofing’ your kitchen, consider elderly parent – ‘proofing’ it. Safety is the key issue.

As most caregivers of elderly parents know, it is often very difficult to convince your Mom or Dad to change things. However, stress the importance of safety whenever possible. If your parent is suffering from a cognitive disorder, reminding him or her not to place canned goods in the microwave or be careful with the knives just doesn’t work. It’s up to you to unplug the microwave and to place the kitchen knives in a secured drawer.

Ten Simple Ways to Reduce Safety Risks in the Kitchen

Here are just a few suggestions on how caregivers may make the kitchen a safer place. Caregivers should also check with local Elderly Community Services, the Alzheimer’s Organization or AARP for additional resources on creating safe environments throughout the home.

Make sure all electrical cords are covered or securely tacked down to prevent accidents– Place socket covers over electrical sockets that are not in use. Make sure that electrical cords don’t dangle over the edge of the counter or lie on the floor, creating a potential elderly fall hazard.
Keep flammable liquids (such as lighter fluid) out of the kitchen and store in a safe location out of doors–Check under the sink and in the utility room. You’d be surprised how many items stored under the kitchen sink are flammable.
Get rid of the ‘junk drawer’– Many elderly parents with various forms of dementia or Alzheimer’s will often eat matches, plastic, washers, erasers and other objects.
Think about disengaging the garbage disposal– That’s an accident just waiting to happen.
• Install child-proof locks or latches to cupboards that contain knives, cooking utensils and other objects that may break or cause injury.
Keep medications in a secured location– ask your health care professional for advice.
• Consider removing the knobs from the stove, or installing a gas shut- off valve that may be turned off when the stove is not in use.
• Install a nightlight in the kitchen.
• If necessary, remove counter top appliances such as blenders, mixers, toasters or coffee makers to prevent potential accidents. Move cords out of the way of other appliances and keep away from sinks and stove tops.

Think Safety First

Many caregivers of elderly parents are hesitant to make such changes because they are afraid of hurting feelings. However, when compared to the alternative, it’s best to be firm and make safety a priority. A caregiver’s approach to safeguard the kitchen area will naturally depend on the cognitive levels of his or her parent. Nevertheless, ensuring elderly parent safety in every room of the house, not just the kitchen, is important for their. As many elders develop cognitive issues, it may be difficult for him or her to differentiate between safe and unsafe. That’s your job as a caregiver.

Ensure that any room in the house, especially the kitchen, is ‘elderly parent friendly’ and will allow easy and safe access even for those using canes and walkers. Modifying the kitchen may involve some time and effort, but in the long run, your efforts will pay off, not only for your elderly parent, but also for all members of the family.

It’s not an easy task, but with a little planning and a developed course of action that may be initiated as increasing needs demand, you can help make the kitchen one of the safest areas of the house, and not the other way around. – www.boomers-with-elderly-parents.com.

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