As our senior friends and relatives age, they may experience a number of physical and mental problems. They may lose their sense of balance, decrease in strength for daily chores, suffer reduced vision and hearing and experience memory problems. All of these issues can put our beloved seniors at increased risk of injury in their homes and when out and about.
Many seniors want to remain in their own living situation for as long as possible. Others agree to move into senior care facilities or choose to move in with family members. In all of these situations, it is the responsibility of younger family members or friends to monitor the safety of the living situation. Here are some tips for making sure the living environment for your senior is as safe as it can be.
One of the first products to investigate is a first alert or medical alert button. There are many choices for this life-saving piece of equipment. Check out various medical alert systems. In addition, your senior may benefit from a broad array of safety products from scooters to hearing amplification products to bath aids. Check out this product guide for safety equipment for seniors.
There may come a time when the living situation for your senior must be modified. You may need to exchange deep piled carpets for wood floors or low pile carpet to avoid falls. You might want to add access bars in the bathroom for ease of using the commode or tub. You might change out the tub for an open access shower. Sturdy rails might be added to indoor and outdoor stairways. Perhaps a ramp will be necessary for home entry. In many cases, making these modifications will enable your senior to remain safely at home for extended periods of time.
Poor vision becomes an increasingly difficult problem for seniors. It is harder to see household dirt. Cooking and cleaning with proper hygiene becomes more challenging. Seniors may need the help of meals brought in and help with the cleaning and laundry as they age. They may need brighter light fixtures and may need to use nightlights for safety in the bathroom. Light switches should be available at both the top and bottom of stairways.
Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors should be checked regularly to make sure they are operable. A fire safety plan should be discussed and practiced in case a fire should occur. Products such as coffee pots, teakettles and irons with automatic shut-offs should be purchased.
Falls are a major cause of injury to our senior citizens. It is important to do a walk-through of the entire home and check for any fall risks. Throw rugs and area carpets must be either removed or secured to reduce slippage. Electrical cords should be well out of the way of walking areas. Seniors should wear sturdy shoes with low heels for good balance and secure footing. Canes, walkers and any walking support items must be properly measured to the person. Bathing areas must be slip-proof and it may be wise to limit bathing to times when help is available.
General Health and Safety
Those who know and love seniors should take it upon themselves to check in regularly with them. What might they need? What part of their life needs increased support? Do a quick check of items in the refrigerator. Old food can be dangerous to seniors. What cleaning or organizing needs to be done? Check that medicines are clearly labeled and than old prescriptions are thrown away. Check to make sure medications are being taken properly and that over the counter items are not interacting with them.
There may come a time when your senior cannot live alone safely. Then the difficult decision of where to live must be made. Should you choose to move your senior into your home, you’ll have a list of home modifications to make. If choosing a new living facility, you’ll want to check for the level of care available and within budget constraints. The safety of our elders is of vital concern. The following sites will give you further information on keeping our seniors safe.