Making an Aging in Place Seniors’ Bedroom Safer Without Remodeling

"Beth"If you have been following along, you will remember Beth, an active, 89 year old woman lives alone in her one level townhome. She has lived alone for many years and has a good support network of family and friends from church. Beth is John’s cousin and they talk weekly. John has mentioned his and Elsie’s search for a home to age in place and Beth has mentioned she has no intention of moving or spending her retirement on a pricey remodel. She likes her townhome and, except for a few inconvenient nuisances, she is pretty content.

While Beth was at the after mass social, she heard about a fellow Parishioner who had an accident in his bedroom. Beth is concerned and wants to make her bedroom safer and more comfortable.  Since the bedroom can potentially be an unsafe place without taking some extra precautions, she asked her nephew Caleb to consult the internet for what
she should do.bedroom w sleighbed

Caleb found an article that had some good information that he printed out and sat down with Beth to talk about.

“Beth, it says here that lighting, heat sources and communications are the main things that should be considered when looking to make the bedroom safer,“ said Caleb.

“Let’s check these things out. Are lamps or light  switches within reach of the bed? It says here that nighttime falls can be prevented by locating furniture closer to switches or moving lamps closer to the bed.”

“Okay, will you help me move the one over there closer to my bed?” I always have
to sit up and reach way over to get to the switch.”

“Sure, no problem. We should install a night light in here and also in your bathroom so it isn’t pitch black for you.”

“Oh, I already have that one that turns off when the light is on in the bathroom but that is a good idea to put one in here Caleb. I need to get another one of
those that will turn off during the day when it is light. I need to put that on my list for us to pick up next time you take me to Wal-Mart. “

“Beth, I think that there are too many cords plugged into this outlet and it could be a potential fire hazard and most definitely a tripping hazard. What don’t you need plugged in here?”

Beth stood for a minute and examined the six outlet adapter she had put in soon after she moved in. “Well, I suppose that lamp should be plugged into the other outlet that it is closer to and my electric blanket could go into the other outlet on the other side of the bed. I just liked them all centrally located but maybe you are right about the fire hazard. I had no idea that wasn’t a good thing to do.”

“Beth, this article mentions glare from the lighting possibly causing unsafe conditions. Do you have a lampshade for your lamp here somewhere?”

“Oh, yes, somewhere. Try the backroom. I just wanted more light so I could read in bed,” said Beth.

“How about if we put a higher wattage bulb in this lamp? If we use a fluorescent
bulb, we can use a pretty bright one without exceeding the recommended wattage.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that, will you get me one out of the linen closet Caleb?”

“Sure thing, Beth,” he said, pausing briefly, “Beth, the article also mentioned there shouldn’t be anything on top of the electric blanket. Electric blankets should not be tucked-in and the manufacturer’s instructions should be closely followed. We should take that bedspread off of there.”

“Oh, but I don’t like that awful, boring electric blanket Caleb! Are you sure there can’t be anything on top?” Asked Beth in frustration.

“Beth, it says it right on the label. It says caution and everything.”

“Oh, all right, I suppose I could just fold down the bedspread at night. I remember my cousin John once fell asleep with a heating pad on his shoulder and he got the worst burn! I have always tried to be very careful with the electric blanket and not put it on very high. I just bought that electric blanket this fall because it will automatically turn off after a while. I tend to run cold when I’m not moving around much. That is why I have that portable heater in here too. I have it over here so I can be really careful not to have it near anything that can catch fire.”

“That was a smart move Beth. The article said burns are a large cause of accidental death among seniors.”

“Beth, we need to put a phone near the bed. That way, if there is an emergency, you can at least reach the phone.”

“Oh, Caleb, that is a good idea. I will keep my cell phone there because it is pre-programmed with one touch 911 and it is set so I can hear the ringer and the speaker on the other end of the line without having to change anything. The keys light too so I can see the numbers without my glasses.”

“Caleb, thank you. Just taking these precautions like keeping the pathway to the bathroom lit with nightlights, preventing heat sources from being near bedding and locating my pre-programmed phone next to the bed can make my bedroom safer. I just wish that fellow from church had known about this stuff. That poor, poor man,” sighed Beth, shaking her head in disbelief.

Written by Alesha E. Churba, A.E.Churba Design: Simple and Divine Interior Design. Alesha is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist with experience in Residential and Commercial Interior Design and Decorating in Southeast Idaho. She designs with her clients futures in mind (aging in place, color story investment, and designing for the long term safety and comfort of her clients). Alesha resides in Pocatello, Idaho. (208) 313-6414. Alesha@aechurba-design.com http://aechurba-design.com.

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