Today, many senior citizens are living alone, so it is important to keep in mind home safety for elderly people. Senior home safety is essential, as there are many cases of falls and accidents, making elderly care a very important issue. Senior citizens also become the target of criminals, so if you’re an elderly citizen living by yourself or if you have an elderly person in your family, check out these tips for making their home safe.
According to the US Census, more than 33% of Americans between 45 and 63 years will become elder orphans who have to take care of themselves. The number of seniors living alone is also likely to increase in the next few years.
Making Home Safer for Seniors: Senior Home Safety Tips
Medical Alert/Life Alert Systems for Senior Safety
Everybody living alone MUST have a medical alert system.
- Such systems have useful features for elderly safety and help them to contact healthcare providers or their family members along with emergency personnel during an emergency.
- You can transmit an alert or information with just a touch, with such a personal emergency response system.
- Most of the medical alert devices and systems also have a mobile app and come with features that are useful for elderly people.
- Once you press this button, the signal is sent to the monitoring center and trained personnel will offer you immediate assistance and notify your family members.
Protection from Fire Hazards
This cannot be stressed enough while considering safety for seniors. According to the US Fire Administration, older people have 2 1/2 times more risk of dying in fires and also suffer more from fire injuries.
- Most elderly people have some kind of mental and physical problems, which limits their mobility and reaction during times of crisis, like a fire emergency.
- While considering safety for seniors, Kitchen fires, smoking in bed, clothes under a gas dryer and electrical problems due to worn out appliances are some of the risks.
- Keep smoke alarms on all levels of the house and also in the sleeping areas. Check out the batteries.
- Having a fire extinguisher handy could mean the difference between life and death
Tip: Mount the fire extinguisher in an accessible place or near your wheelchair.
Falls in bathrooms is one of the leading causes of injuries in elderly people. According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year over 1/4th of people 65 years and above will take a fall. 1 in 5 of such falls result in serious injury to the body, with 95% hip fractures caused due to falling.
- As part of home safety tips for seniors, place non-slip strips on the bathroom and shower floor.
- Remove mats and rugs that could trip you.
- Install safety rails in the bathtub, shower and for the toilet.
- Get a raised toilet seat for additional stability.
- Keep toiletries within easy reach.
- Add proper lighting or motion lighting on the way to the bathroom, so that it is easily accessible at night.
Walking Aid/Mobility Aids
One of the important steps for senior home care is wise to make some investment in mobility aids. This is an important aspect of safety steps for elderly people. These devices can help elderly people as well as those with injuries to move around safely with greater independence, less pain and an increased self esteem.
Tip: Consult your healthcare professional to find an appropriate physical aid to prevent injuries.
There are many online pharmacies where you can get a variety of mobility aids for senior citizens with disabilities, thereby helping them to be independent.
There are various kinds of physical aids for a senior safe life:
- Walkers, crutches, walking sticks, walking frames, canes, mobility scooters. There are different types of canes, like white canes, quad canes, forearm canes, foldable and adjusting ones and so on.
Note: It has been noted that almost 10% of seniors in the US use more than one mobility device.
- Chair raisers
- Toilet aid
- Kitchen/Eating aids
- Bathroom aids
- Dressing aids
- Wheelchairs, for those who cannot put their weight on the lower limbs or for seniors who are not able to walk. They can be propelled manually, powered by electricity or pushed by someone.
Lighting in the House for Senior Living
- It is essential to see that the hallways are better lit in senior citizen homes.
- Increase the ambient light level in all the rooms. A typical option would be a chandelier which disperses the light all around the room.
- Wall switches should be prominently placed, so that you don’t end up stumbling through the room to turn off a light. Keep it within arms’ reach or lower.
- Take care of danger zones, like the stairways, kitchens and the bathroom, by adding more light in these areas.
Tip: Don’t use recessed lights, as they can cause shadows and could be dangerous.
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It can be quite liberating for senior citizens to downsize their living. Clutter makes it difficult to find important things and increases chances of falling or hurting yourself.
- It’s time to give up those boxes filled with baby clothes, high school books and unnecessary keepsakes.
- While downsizing ask yourself questions like: Have you used the item in the last one year; does it improve your quality of life; can you get a significant amount by selling it? You then create three piles: to keep pile; to toss away pile; and to sell or give away pile, it’s that simple.
- Decluttering can help protect seniors from falls. When you reduce clutter in your home, you open up more space for yourself and this reduces the possibility of tripping and falling over some furniture.
Tip: You can donate items to a local organization or have a garage sale!
- As an important part of senior safety tips, see that dishes are washed regularly; garbage is taken out and the bathrooms are clean.
- Bad housekeeping can lead to mold, cockroaches and rodents in the house.
- It also increases clutter in the house, which could lead to falls.
Home Security Systems
Elderly people are more prone to become victims to robberies, assault and fraud.
Tip: Check out this elderly home safety checklist to protect yourself and take the necessary preventive measures.
- Never open the door to strangers.
- Use a wireless doorbell system to answer it without opening, which is one of the popular safety devices for seniors.
- Keep windows and garages locked.
- Illuminate driveways or entrances, so that it makes it difficult for an intruder to hide.
- Use home alarm system that makes an automatic, present emergency call when the alarm is activated.
- Use an electronic watchdog that starts barking when it detects a movement as your home security alarm.
Technology can go a long way in helping the elderly stay connected.
- They can use mobile phones, mobile apps and the Internet to remain connected with family members and friends.
- You can even opt for a senior home safety inspection, whereby property inspectors help and alert seniors about the safety issues of their home, repairs to be done to their home etc.
Tip: While no technology can replace direct human interaction, video chatting services, email and social media can help the elderly feel less lonely through such social interactions. Ask your tech savvy grandchild to show you the ropes!
Assisted Living/Home Care Providers
These are not professional nurses or in home caregivers and do not provide medical care, but rather stop by occasionally or even every day. They can be life savers on several occasions.
- It is suitable for elderly people who are generally independent but need some help in their day to day tasks, such as driving, cooking, cleaning.
- Companions can also offer a solution to loneliness.
- They can check up on whether elderly people are taking their medications, food, bathing and cleaning routine on time.
Many elderly people find it economical and also desirable to live in their own homes, as not everyone is able to afford private home care professionals. Many seniors prefer the comfort and the familiarity of their own homes, instead of relocating to their children’s home or to a retirement home, assisted living, opting for in home healthcare and the like. This is acceptable, but they need to prepare their homes in order to protect themselves from home injuries and accidents. Old age makes it difficult for seniors to handle their daily tasks safely or easily when they live independently instead of opting for senior communities.
If you have an elderly parent living alone instead of in a senior housing community, take the time to check out whether their homes have the above security features. Consult their physician to learn more about their physical limitations, walk through their house and use a checklist for the improvements that need to be made to ease their living conditions. This will help extend the years of independent living of your loved ones, reduce your responsibilities to a certain extent and increase your peace of mind.