For many people, part of being an adult means taking care of aging friends or relatives. In fact, it’s often seen as a duty for the young to care for the generation that came before it. There are many positive aspects about caring for a loved one—you can spend more time with them, and you have the opportunity to make sure personally that they are safe and healthy.

But at times this responsibility for an elderly loved one may feel difficult or even overwhelming. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and that there are plenty of ways to make your job less stressful, and your loved one’s life happier and healthier.

Stander Security Pole and Curved Grab Bar
  • Prevent falls: Getting older means getting more fragile and susceptible to injury, particularly from falls - the leading cause of death from injury among seniors. Make sure that your home is free from dangers such as wet floors and steep stairs. Cover slippery floors with a rug or rubber-backed bath mat, install safety devices like shower chairs and grab bars in the bathroom, and make sure that sharp corners such as counters and stairs are safely covered with foam or carpeting.
  • Don’t play with fire: Fire hazards are a very real danger for everyone, but for seniors the risk is three times the national average. Take extra precautions against blazes by keeping space heaters at least three feet away from curtains or blankets, making sure the stove is off when not in use, and prohibiting smoking in your house. Always keep smoke detectors plugged in, and have a fire escape route planned out just in case.
  • Prepare for when you’re not there: Even when you have an elderly loved one living with you, it’s impossible to expect that you’ll also be home 24/7. Make sure that your loved one has the tools to keep themselves healthy and safe, even when you’re not at home. In addition to fall-proofing your house, you might consider getting a life alert for your loved one to use in the event that they’ve fallen and can’t get up.
  • Keep a schedule: Staying safe and healthy also means making sure that your loved one is taking their medication on time, and in the proper dosage. If you’re concerned about them forgetting, use a gentle alarm, calendar, post-it note, or a medication organizer to help keep them on schedule.

Taking care of an aging loved one in your home can be overwhelming, but a few simple modifications can help put your mind at ease, and make sure they feel as safe and independent as possible.