Everybody eventually learns to accommodate the “empty nest” that inevitably follows the busy days of child-rearing and child-launching. And then – maybe after a rather substantial wait – there is, once again, the prospect of more little ones in the house. This time, however, they are grandchildren, and as much as everyone who raises kids knows how not to drop a baby, the world has changed. It translates into a new kind of child-proofing different from a generation ago. This is advice for seniors who may be hosts to little ones for the first time in a lot of years.
1. First, it is important to start with an open mind. It is too easy to slip into a mindset of “what was good enough for my kids,” but times have changed and so has safety. So, some of the old toys may still be considered safe, but the old car seat, play pen or infant swing may not be just outdated; they may be dangerous. Defer to the new mom and dad for advice on what will still work and what needs to be replaced by the next new thing. This approach is also politically helpful in empowering the new mom and dad.
2. Remember also that when you raised your own children, you may not have had any of the chronic conditions you now have. And you also would not have the medications associated with those conditions, so develop a plan to store medications safely and out of reach of kids. While you may not want the nuisance of those safety bottles, you really need to be certain that medications that will be attractive nuisances to little ones on the prowl are locked up. This is especially true if one of the older grandparents uses the “day of the week” pill reminders that often are stored in the kitchen as a reminder for prescription schedules.
3. For an add layer of safety, go to the source. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a twelve-step approach to fully kid-proofing your home, and a number of their recommendations like smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors which are great safety measures for everyone. They have a downloadable two page brochure to walk you through the steps (click here for brochure).
4. This last one is making the grandparents house safe from what the toddlers or young children will bring with them. Falls among seniors are often caused by the unexpected, and there is nothing so unexpected as the little dolls, cars or a myriad of other items that you will buy for the kids or that they will bring with them. Make it a habit of picking up after play time, because you may not see the little hazard on the floor…especially after sunset.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about Our Story and Charlotte’s mission.