As we age, our senses tend to decline, making it more difficult to go about our everyday routines. As such, changes should be reflected in changes to your loved one’s home to make it safer.
Different Lights Can Help Declining Sight
Many seniors don’t have as sharp vision as they did when they were younger, and home lighting makes all the difference. Consider the following:
- Replace old, incandescent light bulbs in dark areas around the house (like under cabinets) with brighter, fluorescent ones.
- Use colored nightlights in strategic locations like hallways and bathrooms (warm, contrasting colors, like red, are seen much easier than colder colors, like blue).
Reduced Touch Can Lead to Injuries
Changes in a senior’s sense of touch are often caused by decreased blood flow, resulting in an inability to detect changes in temperature or pain. As a result, it may take longer for your loved one to notice when they injure themselves from burns or frostbite.
To avoid your loved one getting burned or injuring themselves in the shower, lower their hot water temperature to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, check for signs of frostbite or hypothermia if they have been outside.
Hearing Loss Emerges Slowly
Hearing loss occurs when the structures inside the ear begin to change. It’s a slow degeneration, so seniors may not know that they are losing their hearing. The signs of hearing loss include:
- Volume on speakers turned up high
- Having difficulty following conversations
- Asking to repeat words
If your loved one is hard of hearing, activate the closed captioning option on their TV and, if their air conditioning is too loud, hire a professional to soundproof the unit. If your loved one is tech-savvy, consider wireless headphones that block out ambient noise. Doing so will allow your loved one to hear better. It’s also a good idea to turn the ringer volume up on their phone to avoid missed calls.
Loss of Smell Increases Fire Accidents
Diminished olfactory abilities may mean your loved one won’t notice the smell of smoke. Install smoke and other detectors like carbon monoxide so your loved one can be alerted if something is amiss. Make sure you change the batteries and test the system regularly.
Taste Affects Eating Habits
Taste and smell go hand-in-hand. The inability to smell food diminishes its flavor and it may not taste as good. Because of this decline, seniors may not enjoy their food as much as they used to and they may eat less. There is also the danger that they will not be able to detect spoiled foods.
Check the food in the refrigerator and cabinets for any signs of spoilage and promptly throw spoiled articles away. Doing so will prevent your loved one from accidentally eating spoiled food and getting sick. Make sure your loved one is eating enough and consider adding new spices to foods to enhance the flavor.
For additional safety tips, check out the Senior Home Safety section of our blog.