Making Your Home Safer for Seniors
Every year, American seniors suffer over two million at-home accidents. It is especially important to make your home safer for seniors because seniors have a higher risk for accidents, and a higher risks for injury when accidents occur. With the help of elder care experts, like Visiting Angels, and readily available resources, you can make your home a safer place for an elderly parent or relative.
Of the many safety concerns faced by seniors, the four most common are:
While it is impossible to 100% safeguard a home from any of the above, you can dramatically limit the threat posed by these four concerns.
- Preventing Falls
To prevent falls, the first step is to eliminate tripping and slipping hazards (wires, small objects, unsafe furniture, and unsecured rugs). Making sure all surfaces provide as much traction as possible, either by using carpeting, non-slip tile, or by applying no-slip strips, will also drastically limit the chance of a fall. It is also wise to make sure areas are well-lit and easy to navigate, with lots of room to walk through. For areas such as stairs, bathtubs, and showers, you can install handrails for added stability. In the case of spills, make sure to clean wet surfaces immediately. For the winter, ensure that all icy surfaces have been liberally salted/sanded.
- Preventing Fires
For fire prevention, having working fire safety equipment – such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers – will help alert you to fires or help you contain them should they occur. Smart use of electrical items is essential. Replace items with fraying cords and avoid overusing specific outlets. You should also be careful with your use of heat sources. Avoid loose clothing when using the stove top or barbecue, check to make sure the oven is turned off after cooking, and follow all safety instructions for items like space heaters.
While not fire related, you can also prevent scalding burns caused by hot water. You can do this through lowering the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 F.
- Prevent Poisoning
There are two main poison concerns for seniors. The first is gas poisoning. Carbon monoxide can be a silent, unnoticed killer. Installing a working carbon monoxide detector near all bedrooms can safeguard you and your loved ones from this tasteless, odorless gas. The second is medication. You can request large-print labeling for medications. It is important to keep medications properly organized, and they should be used in a well-lit area to avoid misreading labels. If your loved one is forgetful, it can be useful to post a daily tracker where they can mark which medications they have taken so far.
- Preventing Burglaries
Protecting your home against burglars is essential, no matter your age. Make sure your doors and windows have strong locks that you keep secure. You should never let strangers into your home and should discourage your loved one from doing so.
Finally, make sure all emergency numbers, including police, fire, ambulance, and poison control are posted directly next to your telephone. And remember that sometimes a person’s physical or mental condition degrades to the point where their safety is always going to be compromised. If you already rely on elder care, it might be wise at this point to explore expanding your loved one’s coverage. If you do not have care set up, we would suggest contacting your local Visiting Angels elder care office. Our elder care teams provide assistance and vigilance to improve your loved one’s safety.