Is Your Aging Parent’s Home Safe?
Use This Home Safety Checklist
As our parents continue to age, it's up to us to make sure they are safe in their own homes. Beyond just a clean and tidy living space, there are many potential hazards that seniors face when it comes to their plumbing, heating/cooling systems, and electrical.
Many times, seniors in Birmingham, Alabama live in the home they raised their families and will plan to age in place. Older homes, particularly those built before the 1980s, can have outdated or potentially dangerous systems. Neglecting these systems can lead to accidents, respiratory problems, and even fire hazards. Thankfully, there are steps homeowners can take to ensure their aging parents' home is safe.
Here, we've put together a home safety checklist to help you identify any areas of concern and make sure your loved one's home is secure. We will explore the top things homeowners should check for in their parents' homes and tips to maintain these systems to ensure their loved ones stay safe.
The plumbing system is one of the most critical systems in a home, and should be checked regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. Check for leaks, which may be evident as puddles on the floor, damp spots or stains on walls, or an increase in water bills. These can be signs of a water leak that needs to be addressed immediately.
To keep plumbing safe, check drains to ensure they are adequately draining and not clogged. Homeowners should also inspect their water quality by sending a water sample to a local lab for testing. You can install water softeners or treatment systems to improve water quality and prolong the life of fixtures and appliances.
The plumbing system in an aging home can cause its fair share of concerns. Old pipes can leak or burst, leading to water damage and mold growth, while clogged pipes can contribute to sewage backups. In addition, hard water and mineral buildup can damage fixtures such as faucets, showerheads, and pipes. If your parent's home has older pipes, it may be a good idea to have them inspected by a plumber to ensure they are still in good condition.
Fall and winter can be especially dangerous times for seniors if their heating systems fail or malfunction. Start by making sure that all heating systems, whether it's a furnace, boiler, or space heater, are properly installed and regularly maintained. Change filters regularly and keep all heating systems free from debris and clutter.
Also, chimneys should be cleaned to reduce the risk of a fire, and make sure all carbon monoxide detectors are present and functioning to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Older homes may have heating systems that are either outdated or not running efficiently. Look out for signs of trouble such as strange smells, unusual sounds, or difficulty in starting up. The homeowner should replace outdated heaters and schedule regular maintenance to prevent emergencies.
As the summer temperatures increase, it's important to ensure that seniors stay cool and comfortable in their homes. Yet, if air conditioning is not properly maintained or is installed incorrectly, it may result in many problems.
Inspect their AC system, including ducts and vents, for dust, debris or any signs of visible damage, and ensure that the system is installed correctly and operating at peak performance. Change the air filter regularly to keep the system running clean and efficiently.
Consider installing fans or air purifiers to improve air circulation as well to help their loved ones deal better with symptoms of allergies or asthma.
Additionally, if your loved one lives in a hot and humid climate, consider investing in a dehumidifier to prevent moisture buildup and the growth of mold and other harmful bacteria.
The bathroom is one of the most hazardous areas within a home, especially for seniors. Install grab bars in the shower, tub and near the toilet and make sure the floor surface is non-slip. Consider installing a walk-in tub or shower if necessary.
Ensure that the water heater is set below 120 degrees Fahrenheit by checking the thermostat, and inspect it annually to ensure it's in good working condition.
Electric problems are the leading cause of home fires in the Alabama and the United States. It's essential for senior homeowners to keep an eye on their electrical systems to avoid accidents. Homeowners should regularly inspect their devices and wiring for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed wires. They should also ensure their electrical system is properly grounded and that outlets and light fixtures are in good condition.
Home Safety Devices and Emergencies
In addition to taking the above steps, homeowners should install essential safety devices throughout their aging parents' homes. Door and window alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency power lights are some of the most critical safety devices that must be in place.
Make sure your aging parent knows what to do in case of an emergency, whether it's a burst pipe or a fire. Post important contact information, such as the local fire department and poison control center, in visible locations throughout the home.
Also, keep a well-stocked emergency kit on hand that includes things like flashlights, extra batteries, non-perishable food, and water. Finally, consider installing a medical alert system so that your loved one can quickly and easily call for help in case of a fall or other emergency.
Repairs Can Be Expensive
Ensuring your aging parent's home is safe is critical to reduce the risk of accidents or fires that can have serious effects on their health and safety. By following this home safety checklist, you can help prevent common hazards and ensure that your loved ones can live safely and comfortably.
Making repairs and home upkeep can be costly. If your parents are struggling to make ends meet in retirement, a reverse mortgage can ensure they live safely and comfortably by providing seniors with an opportunity to access the equity in their home without needing to sell it or make payments. A reverse mortgage is a type of loan that allows homeowners aged 62 and older to borrow against the equity in their home, converting the equity into cash without needing to sell or move out, and without having to make any monthly payments.
This means you can use the cash freely to fund large expenses, make repairs and improvements to their home, pay off debts, supplement their income, or just enjoy retirement more comfortably. Reverse mortgages can also help seniors remain in their homes longer by making them more financially secure in retirement.
Use our Free Reverse Mortgage Calculator to find out if you qualify. Our specialists are here to help you.