Keeping the home safety conversation going

Your follow-up conversations can help you and the older adult work together to improve their home safety.

Follow-up conversations can be good opportunities to:

  • Share and discuss new information

  • Weigh the pros and cons of different options

  • Ask if the older adult's needs or feelings have changed since the last time you talked

  • Involve professionals, family or friends whose experiences and opinions you both value

If you and the older adult agreed on next steps during your first conversation, it can be easy to start the next discussion. For example: "How did your eye exam go?" or "I heard back from the city about home accessibility resources."

If the first conversation didn't end with clear plans or on a positive note, there are other ways to start a follow-up discussion. You might want to:

  • Build on a specific point from the previous discussion: "You said that some kitchen shelves are a bit high. Would it help for us to reorganize the kitchen a little, so things are easier to reach?"

  • Discuss a different home safety topic: "I know you want time to think about bigger changes, but how would you feel about adding a few lights?"

  • Try to understand their point of view: "You said you don't want to have your medications reviewed by a pharmacist. Why? Does it seem like too much of a hassle?"

  • Explain why this is important to you: "It may seem like I'm overreacting, but I know from Mike's family that situations can change quickly. I just want you to be safe and stay in your home as long as possible."

  • Highlight how other things might affect home safety: "I know some days your arthritis gives you problems. What do you think about adding railings to the outside steps?"

  • Space out conversations: "It's been a few weeks since we talked about how a cane might help you get around. Do you still think that's a good idea? Do you want to look at different canes?"

You can encourage the older adult to share their thoughts and opinions by asking more open-ended questions, like "What changes would you like to make around the home?" If you ask lots of "leading" questions - like "Wouldn't you feel safer if you used a cane?" - it can seem like you're just trying to get them to go along with what you want.

Try to have smaller, more frequent conversations, rather than a few big ones. That gives you both time to get information and consider options before you discuss home safety again.

Avoid launching into a home safety conversation every time you talk with the older adult. Try to balance the "serious" talk with time spent simply enjoying each other's company.