Starting the home safety conversation
Nearly everyone wants to stay in their home as they age.
Home safety conversations can highlight benefits, like making tasks easier and helping the older adult stay active.
Discussing home safety with the older adult early gives you more time to get information, consider options and make changes.
Before you talk with the older adult, ask yourself:
What are my specific concerns about the older adult's health, abilities or home environment?
What have I seen or heard that makes me have these concerns?
What don't I know? What assumptions might I be making?
Am I trying to convince the older adult to do what I think is best? Am I open to other possibilities?
Set a small goal for your first conversation. For example, your goal could be learning whether any areas in the home are challenging for the older adult, or seeing if the older adult shares any of your safety concerns.
Good conversation starters include home safety facts, friends' or family members' experiences, or news stories. For example:
"I've been thinking how great it was that Grandma stayed in her home for so long. What helped her do that?"
"Did you hear that George fell and broke his hip? Do you ever worry about something like that?"
"Did you know that home accidents are more than twice as likely as car crashes to cause injury? But there are lots of ways to improve home safety."
Be honest about your reasons for wanting to discuss home safety. Acknowledge that the older adult might see the situation differently.
During the conversation, focus on understanding the older adult's point of view. Don't push for decisions or actions right away. Don't try to cover too much in your first discussion.
Try to end on a positive note. If you can, agree on next steps with the older adult, like having another conversation, scheduling an appointment or doing a home safety assessment together.