By Julie Fries, RN, Valley VNA In-Home Client Care Coordinator

I’m Julie Fries, an RN at Valley VNA and client coordinator for all of our in-home care clients’ medical needs. I was asked to write about home safety for the elderly, a topic that goes far beyond grab bars in the bathroom. I help seniors and their families discover new and helpful ways that enable loved ones to live safely and happily in their homes.

Some advice is so simple, it’s surprising. But if a person has been living in the same house for 50 years, new ideas can be very beneficial “ah-ha” moments. Try these tips:

1. Buy several nightlights and plug them in all along the route to the bathroom. A while ago, maybe one would suffice, but aging people need a better lit pathway.

2. Keep the walker close to the edge of the bed at night. Especially for people with moderate dementia, it will be a cue for them to use the walker on the way to the bathroom; otherwise, they may forget and try to go without it.

3. Did you know that shower seats come with a notch to hold a handheld shower nozzle so you don’t have to reach up and wrestle with the unwieldy hose?

4. Seniors can skip pill sorting entirely and have your prescriptions packaged in single-dose bubble packs right at the pharmacy.

5. You can hire a homemaking companion just for the jobs that are getting difficult, like changing the sheets on the bed and chopping fresh fruit and veggies for the week’s meals.

6. Install a grab handle between the storm door and the exterior door to help an elderly person boost up and over the threshold of his or her house.

7. Buy and install a high-rise toilet seat so it’s easier to sit down and get up.

8. If you are concerned about an older person’s ability to drive, shift that decision to the DMV. The DMV offers a vision test and re-evaluation for senior drivers. Restrictions can be placed on a person’s license to keep him or her safe, like no freeway driving, no night driving, or driving only within a defined geographic area.

9. The Veteran’s Administration may pay for up to six hours per week of in-home care if an elderly person is a veteran who has served in combat. This benefit can be a blessing to our elderly veterans.

Valley VNA offers free home visits to assess any elderly person’s home safety. Our goal is to offer you a resource person whom you can call when circumstances change and you want to explore a new level of care.

Sometimes feeling safe is simply knowing that you’ve got good people on your team. Call (920) 727-5555 to schedule a home safety assessment. We’ll step up to the plate and join your team.