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Homewatch CareGivers Blog

The Importance of Uniting in Safety

by Homewatch CareGivers | Feb 24, 2015
Taking measures to remain safe in one’s home is a key part of maintaining independence.

safety box
Taking measures to remain safe in one’s home is a key part of maintaining independence.

The National Patient Safety Foundation has created the annual Patient Safety Awareness Week, which occurs March 8-14, 2015. This year’s theme is “United in Safety” and the goal is to “enhance communication, which can increase engagement.”

First of all, communication is definitely an important part of well-being for both a family caregiver and their loved one who needs assistance. Good communication starts with having open talks about a future plans—from money to end-of-life choices and much more in between. Knowing that someone has their financial affairs in order creates one kind of safety with the ability to pay for necessary care when needs arise. 

Consider these tips when starting the conversation with a loved one about their current and future safety and well-being:

  1. Practice makes perfect. Before you actually speak with your loved ones about concerns for their safety, practice in writing or with someone you trust.

  2. Consider the goal. The goal should be to engage your Mom or other family member, not to confront them and be right.

  3. Ask questions. This is a conversation, not a monologue. Ask about their concerns and preferences.

Next, see if there are simple fixes around the home to make it safer and reduce the risk of falls. Many changes in the home won’t cost anything, and others might be cost-effective. Here are a few most common problems that can lead to falls and their solutions:

  1. Dim lighting. Eyesight typically weakens with age and a number of chronic conditions and degenerative disorders can create eyesight problems. Having adequate lighting and nightlights throughout the house can help to counteract the diminishing vision problems.

  2. Clutter. Whether it’s a loose throw rug or a pile of newspapers, these items in the home can present tripping hazards. Create clear walkways and move anything that can be tripped on.

  3. Slick surfaces. Bathrooms present a few safety risks because of the slick and/or wet surfaces and the need to bend and lift oneself. Grab bars can be installed by the toilet to assist with standing and sitting and also in the shower. Non-slip carpet or mats can be put down to make bathroom floors safer.

  4. Go outside. For people with yards and garages, there are other considerations such as icy walkways, tools, and potentially harmful chemicals. Ensure that all tools and chemicals are securely stored, but within easy reach. Hire someone to shovel snow and sprinkle salts on winter walkways.

Learn more about Patient Safety Awareness Week at the National Patient Safety Foundation® website.