I've written before about high-tech ways to make your parents' home safer and more accessible as they age in place. But not all safety solutions come with a microchip or a battery pack. A good part of what I call "future-proofing" your parents' home (or your own, for that matter) comes down to looking at the house through the eyes of someone who is experiencing the impairments that come with age, and making simple changes in response.
The Home Safety Council has released a new online tool that can help you do just that. At mysafehome.org, a click of the mouse takes you on a virtual tour of an online "home," with tips for accident-proofing each room. A custom tour for seniors is in the works but not released yet; however, the site does include a page of information especially for those caring for aging parents.
The site makes the sensible (but easily overlooked) suggestion that adult children "lead by example. The same small changes that would keep an older adult safe at home -- working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, grab bars in the bathroom, etc. -- will protect the rest of your family, too."
Each stop on the virtual tour offers elder-friendly tips -- a visit to the hallway, for example, unlocks the suggestion that you install handrails on both sides of the stairs.
If you're like me, you'll find new ideas on the virtual tour, as well as some you may already have proposed to your parents, only to have those suggestions brushed off, out of defensiveness or denial ("I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.")
I plan to use mysafehome.org as an opportunity to introduce my 87-year-old dad -- who lives alone in a two-story condominium that could use some updating on the safety front –--to some new ideas, as well as revisit some I've brought up before. I'm hoping that with state-of-the art digital animation on my side (and that soothing computer-generated voice replacing my familiar nagging tones), we may have better luck than I did the first time around.
I'll keep you posted….
Image courtesy of MySafeHome.org .