Spring and Summer Visits: Helping Seniors and Family Caregivers Stay Safe
After more than a year of separation from loved ones, some seniors are finally enjoying time with family and friends. Reduced family visits and social interaction during the pandemic limited everyone's ability to check in on the living conditions and safety of senior loved ones living alone. As families begin to reunite with loved ones, family members should take time to help seniors with yearly maintenance tasks, much-needed home projects, and safety concerns.
To ensure that visits are productive, family visitors can help their loved ones prepare a list of household priorities and offer support in addressing home maintenance projects. They can also assist with cleaning and decluttering, identifying and resolving home safety concerns, and addressing yearly emergency preparedness.
Planning and preparation
When planning a family visit, inform loved ones that you can help them with household tasks during your stay. If you’ve helped before, remind them that you’re open to doing so again, and if needed, offer to help line up qualified, licensed contractors who can complete tasks that require complex skills and experience. Have a conversation with family members about household projects they need to address and help them prepare a list of priorities.
A periodic maintenance check of the AC unit, water heater, and household smoke and fire alarms can contribute to a healthier, safer, and more secure environment. Maintenance checks can also help avert equipment issues long before they can negatively affect residents.
When visiting loved ones, help set up appointments for periodic maintenance checks for the AC unit, water heater, and alarm systems. Check whether family members already have a maintenance agreement with a local company. Inquire about the dates these maintenance visits are due. When assisting aging parents or family members with yearly projects, try to be on the premises during any scheduled appointments. Make yourself available when the crew arrives. If you are out of town or can’t be there at the scheduled time, request that a reliable family member or caregiver be available. Let maintenance crews know that your loved one is not alone.
Cleaning, decluttering, home safety, and renovations
In addition to assisting with maintenance tasks during family visits, provide support with cleaning and decluttering whenever possible. While helping clean, check on the condition of floors, stairs, railings, bathroom fixtures, fans, and household lighting. Replacing or repairing broken tiles or replacing frayed or torn carpet can reduce the risk of tripping and falling. Ensuring floors are in good condition also makes ambulation safer and more convenient for individuals who use assistive devices such as walkers or canes.
Help loved ones remove clutter from hallways, entries, and walkways. Some seniors may be unable to lift heavy boxes and furniture, so offer to remove bulky or heavy items.
To reduce the risk of falls or injuries, make it a priority to identify and resolve bathroom issues that could pose safety concerns. Are there grab bars in the tub area or the shower stall? Are grab bars needed around the commode? In addition to taking care of bathroom concerns, consider checking the current condition of stairs, entryways, lighting, outside steps, and yard safety.
Is an entry ramp needed? Consider getting advice from a licensed home builder or renovator or a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS). If you need a reference list for aging-in-place remodeling issues, please visit the National Association of Home Builders (NHAB) Aging-In-Place Remodeling Checklist webpage.
The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1st! While visiting family members, volunteer to update emergency preparedness kits. Assist senior loved ones in accessing local, county, and state emergency preparedness websites, reviewing web links, and updating contact phone numbers periodically since these may change. Find out if family loved ones need to register for a special needs shelter program. Contact your county's emergency management agency to learn about the different shelters available in your area and inquire about the agency's special needs shelter program.
We encourage readers to also visit the State of Florida’s webpage dedicated to hurricane preparedness and information.
Always stay in touch with older family members by calling or visiting them whenever possible. Let them know that you care and offer to help with projects they may not be able to tackle alone. While visiting older loved ones or assisting them with home projects, always be mindful to follow health and safety guidelines. We hope the information we have provided in our Senior Helpers’ blog is helpful to you and your family.
While visiting family seniors during the spring or summer months, find out if they would benefit by having daily home care assistance and companionship. Home healthcare services can be beneficial for older seniors who live alone. Caregivers can provide companionship, assist with daily living tasks, and help identify safety issues that could pose a risk for seniors.
Senior Helpers Orlando provides in-home healthcare services, including companion care, personal care, Parkinson's care, and Alzheimer's care services in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. Should you or a loved one need home healthcare services, call Senior Helpers Orlando at (407) 628-4357.
Ana P. De Lane
Senior Helpers Orlando Team Member
References and resources
Aging-In-Place Remodeling Checklist, National Association of Home Builders (NHAB); retrieved May 13, 2021, from https://www.nahb.org/education-and-events/education/designations/Certified-Aging-in-Place-Specialist-CAPS/Additional-Resources/Aging-In-Place-Remodeling-Checklist
Hurricanes; FloridaDisaster.ORG, Division of Emergency Management; retrieved May 13, 2021, from https://www.floridadisaster.org/hazards/hurricanes/.
FloridaDisaster.ORG, Division of Emergency Management; retrieved May 13, 2021, from https://www.floridadisaster.org/.
When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated ̶ How to Protect Yourself and Others; COVID-19; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; retrieved May 14, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html/.