Creating a Safe Home Environment for Seniors with Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects an individual’s body movements, which in turn increases falling risks, especially for the elderly. Home safety is a paramount concern for seniors with Parkinson’s disease living at home. Precautions and the assistance of home health aides may be needed to ensure they age in place as long as possible without experiencing a debilitating injury.
To create an easy-to-navigate and safe home environment for seniors with PD, you need to remove obstacles in every room that increase fall risks. Here are some home safety tips from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research1 and the Parkinson’s Foundation2.
General Living Area Safety
- Remove throw rugs as well as extension, phone, and computer cords. Individuals with PD tend to shuffle their feet and may get tangled in them
- Secure carpets. A softer surface can give your loved one more traction to get around the house
- Secure furniture to ensure its stability
- Make sure chairs have armrests and adequate seat height to ease standing
- Consider investing in an adjustable reclining chair that helps with standing
- Rearrange furniture to widen openings and create a clear path around the home
- Install night lights throughout the home with timers
- Use touch lights or those that respond to sound
- Install railings along stairs, walls, and hallways
- Check that smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors work in all rooms
Bathroom Safety for the Elderly
- Add grab bars for shower safety for the elderly
- Add non-skip strips to shower floor
- Add a shower chair or bench with back support
- Add seating at the sink to perform daily grooming tasks
- Remove throw rugs
- Change a conventional toilet for an elevated version
- Remove clutter to make it a more relaxing space
- Raise bed height, so feet touch the floor when seated at the side of the bed
- Install a side rail or use a bed pole that helps with rising from the bed
- Place a phone and flashlight on the nightstand
- Add bright nightlights
- Place a commode bedside for nighttime use
- Rearrange shelves to make commonly-used foods easily accessible
- Replace cabinet knobs with handles that are easier to close and open
- Place spices, pots and pans, and other items frequently used for cooking by the stove
- Add rubber-handled utensils that are easier to grip
Understanding Parkinson’s Motor Symptoms
Parkinson’s disease presents limitations for the elderly, and those caring for someone with PD need to understand the symptoms. As a movement disorder, it can affect an individual’s mobility in many ways, including:
- Slowed body movements
- Resting tremors in arms, hands, face, and jaws
- Limb rigidity
- Balance problems
- Muscle stiffness
- Freezing gait
- Stooped posture
- Slowed or slurred speech.
Emotionally, many clients suffer from depression, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
PD can start slow with almost unnoticeable symptoms and progressively get worse. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the disease progresses in five stages.
Stage 1: Individuals experience mild symptoms that are bothersome but don’t interfere with daily life.
Stage 2: Walking and posture problems become more apparent, with persons experiencing tremors and rigidity of the body. While tasks take longer, persons with PD can still live alone.
Stage 3: Increased loss of balance and slower movements can result in falls. While living independently, the person may need help to perform activities such as eating and dressing.
Stage 4: Symptoms are severe, limiting walking and standing without assistance. Unable to live alone, the person requires home care with activities of daily living.
Stage 5: In this advanced stage, muscle stiffness makes it impossible to stand or walk. As a result, a senior with PD requires a wheelchair or is bedridden. Hallucinations and illusions may begin. Round the clock care is needed for all activities.
As a progressive disease, no timeline exists when certain symptoms occur. Typically, the severity depends on how long a person has PD. Preparing the home for these different stages can prevent an accident in the future.
Getting Home Care Services for Parkinson’s
At some point, your senior loved one who has Parkinson’s disease may need daily at-home living assistance, private duty care, or even round-the-clock care. Activities that were once a pleasure may now pose a danger. While you want to do what you can to support your senior loved one, you may have difficulties being there as much as you would like. Nor do you have the specialized knowledge in caring for someone with advanced symptoms of PD.
Consider professional in-home care services. Visiting Angels Newton/Canton home caregivers can help with activities of daily living, ambulation, meal preparation, assistance with eating, and medication reminders. Trained in providing home care for Parkinson’s, our staff ensure your loved one follows home safety recommendations and gets the support that maintains their quality of life.
First, we assess the home and make recommendations in making the home safer and easier to navigate for your senior loved one. Ongoing assessments ensure additional home adjustments to support aging seniors as PD symptoms advance. With our home care, you are assured a CNA, or HHA-certified caregiver will get to know your loved one and his/her needs in every stage of PD.
For information on Visiting Angels’ full-time home care services, and how we can help you find a caregiver who meets your needs, contact us today at 617-795-2727.
- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. 7 Home Safety Tips for People with Parkinson's Disease. https://www.michaeljfox.org/news/7-home-safety-tips-people-parkinsons-disease
- Parkinson’s Foundation. Home Safety. https://www.parkinson.org/Living-with-Parkinsons/Managing-Parkinsons/Activities-of-Daily-Living/Home-Safety
About Visiting Angels Newton/Canton:
Visiting Angels Newton/Canton MA is an award-winning local home care agency providing high caliber in-home care services to the elderly and people with disabilities. Countless families have benefited from our home Alzheimer's care, dementia care, companion care, senior care, respite support, transitional aid, and home care services in Westwood, Norwood, Brookline, Watertown, Needham, Dedham, Canton, Stoughton, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Chestnut Hill, Roslindale, and nearby towns. While essential personal in nature, the care provided by Visiting Angels Newton/Canton can make a significant impact on your loved one's happiness and quality of life. Contact us today for a free in-home consultation!
We are staying Diligent
As the confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise in our area, we are monitoring the situation and the advice from public health authorities. Visiting Angels remain committed to our responsibility as your home care provider during this time. We recognize that our Visiting Angels caregivers allow seniors to age safely and comfortably in their own homes, wherever that may be, and that some of our clients cannot get through the day or night without a caregiver. We want to assure you that we are communicating to our caregivers to follow best practices, including hand-washing, and staying home if they are feeling ill or have traveled to Level 3 CDC countries.