As there are a growing number of aged adults living independently, it’s ever important to be aware of the risks of daily living accidents such as falls and fire hazards and how to eliminate these to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. Whether a quick fix or a small renovation, the following are commonly recommended adjustments to help avoid potential risks.
Remove a loose rug or secure it with double-sided tape or a rug pad. For carpet tears, mend with carpet glue or staples. If you have a flight of stairs, use textured no-slip strips and ascertain that handrails are secure. Another consideration is a chair lift. For the bathroom, a rubber mat in the tub prevents slippage. Also, you can browse your local medical supply store for grab bars to install near the shower, bathtub, and toilet. You may also look for a toilet seat riser to ease getting up. Place electrical cords away from high traffic areas.
Clear the pathway of any chairs, appliances, bags, or boxes that can impede the walkway and cause someone to lose their footing. Add low-level shelving to store extra items that are lying around.
Fix or trade chairs with wobbly limbs for those with sturdy legs and arms. Ensure chairs and bedding are at a comfortable height to sit and rise from. Adjust the headboard or replace the mattress if it’s too high or low.
Darkness in the home during the night is an accident waiting to happen while making one’s way to the bathroom. Nightlights, motion sensor lighting, or the clapper are helpful aids to increase visibility rather than risking a stumble. LED bulbs versus high bulb wattage are safer and save on energy.
Reduce the need to visit the basement or consider purchasing a ranch where you can access laundry, storage, and other items on the main floor. Create easy access to heavy objects, such as hanging pots and pans on the wall, to avoid heavy lifting.
Control temperatures by monitoring thermostats or installing lock-in switches to control furnace fires. Check that electrical cords are not frayed, and outlets aren’t overfilled to avoid shorts and overheating. Be careful of burns and scalding when near water or in the kitchen. The water-heater thermostat should be no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit and avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking on the stove. When using space heaters, ensure they are placed at least three feet away from furnishings.
Everyone, including seniors, is vulnerable to smoke and toxic fumes. Change the smoke detector and carbon monoxide batteries twice per year and add a fire extinguisher to the kitchen and on each floor of the home. Keep a list of emergency numbers visible and handy. Hire a regular cleaning service and have the pharmacy attach large print labels to medication bottles. You don’t want to risk the possibility that seniors with mobility, hearing, and visual limitations, accidentally overmedicate or mix the wrong cleaning chemicals.
In addition, obtain a medical alert system for those prone to falls. If they don’t want to wear a device, they should always have a cordless phone handy. Finally, invest in a smart home security system to protect against home invasion if you can afford it.
As we and our loved ones age, we become increasingly vulnerable to accidents, crime, and health emergencies. Tragedies can cost us dearly if we don’t take the time to ensure our homes are safe. It’s just a matter of taking a few extra precautions and, if needed, investing in the necessary changes to provide the priceless protection and peace of mind that we all deserve.