As individuals grow older, maintaining a level of autonomy and independence is something many strive for. There is no doubt there are inherent risks in a home, which is why seniors must take the proper precautions to maintain safety, particularly those who live alone.
If you are a senior or have parents or grandparents living on their own, consider these senior safety tips.
1. Fall Prevention
For many seniors, walking becomes more difficult over time. This can have serious implications in multi-story homes with many steps. Just the daily task of going up and down the steps can be painstaking.
Over one million people suffer injuries each year from stairway falls. If you or someone you know has trouble navigating the steps, consider installing stairlifts to safely travel up and down stairs without putting unnecessary strain on your joints.
Other fall prevention tips include using a cane or walker to navigate the home and wearing non-slip shoes, such as slippers, when walking on smooth floors.
2. Emergency Contact
You should always have a list of emergency contact information on hand. It is best to write the numbers down and keep them by each phone in the house, or program them into a cell phone. Here are the numbers you should consider:
- Emergency contacts: family, friends, healthcare providers, etc.
- Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
There are also emergency bracelets and necklaces you can wear to contact 911 with just the push of a button. These are particularly useful for individuals who have a history of falling or have a medical ailment.
3. Fire Prevention and Safety
If there is ever a fire in your home, don’t panic and DON’T try to put it out. Immediately vacate the premises and call 911. You should know at least two escape routes beforehand in case a fire ever occurs.
To minimize the chances of a fire occurring, consider these fire prevention tips:
- Avoid wearing loose articles of clothing while cooking.
- Replace old or faulty appliances.
- Have smoke detectors throughout the house.
- Replace smoke detector batteries at least twice a year.
- Don’t smoke in bed or leave cigarettes burning.
- Don’t leave candles burning unattended.
- Don’t place furniture, bedding, or curtains directly in front of heaters.
4. Safety-Proof the Bathroom
Did you know the most dangerous room in a home is the bathroom? Safely navigating the bathroom can be particularly difficult for seniors. Slipping in and out of the bathtub is one of the biggest areas of concern.
To make it easier to get in and out of the bathtub, consider installing a grab bar. You can also install one next to the toilet. Likewise, put rubber mats in the bathtub and on the floor to prevent slipping. And if you need extra assistance, consider installing a chair or bench in the bathtub.
5. Poison Prevention
There are different areas seniors should address to prevent poisoning. For instance, carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat due to the odorless gas. The best way to prevent this from happening is to have carbon monoxide detectors in every main room in your home.
As is the case for many seniors, they must take multiple medications daily. Consider using weekly pill organizers to prevent mix-ups and to ensure you stay on track with your medications. And so do you don’t lose them, keep close track of your medication bottles.
Cleaning products are another area of concern. Never mix cleaning products, as they can create deadly gases. And if you ever believe you’ve been poisoned, contact poison control immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
As is natural with aging, our eyesight deteriorates over time. However, poorly lit rooms can become dangerous for seniors. Here are some ways to address these issues:
- Replace old lightbulbs.
- Invest in LED lights, which are brighter and more energy-efficient.
- Install motion sensor lights throughout the home.
7. Elder Abuse
A sad statistic is nearly one in ten seniors have experienced some type of elder abuse. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening.
For one, keep all windows and doors locked at all times. Don’t share personal information online or over the phone. And if you or someone you know has experienced abuse from a caregiver or someone else, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline immediately.