Every year, millions of elderly Americans suffer accidents in their homes that could have been avoided. An accident-proof house for seniors is not impossible to achieve and doesn’t typically require much except some planning, a modest investment, and maybe a bit of elbow grease. Bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens all present potential hazards to seniors, especially if they’re living alone. Below are a few easy ways you can senior proof a home to keep your loved one safe.
Uneven floors, bunched rugs, unstable furniture, and poor lighting all contribute to creating tripping hazards that can leave your loved one extremely vulnerable to falling. One in four older adults falls each year in the U.S., making this the number one accident suffered by the elderly. Roughly 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year—resulting in more than 32,000 deaths.
So, what can you do to lower the risk of your loved one becoming part of these statistics? Go from room to room in your senior’s home and assess the potential dangers. Then:
Install grab bars and/or handrails anywhere they may be needed — next to the toilet, in the shower, beside the front door, and along hallways
- Use rubber bath mats, raised toilet seats, and tub chairs in the bathroom
- Remove or secure rugs, so they don’t present tripping hazards
- Make sure sidewalks and pathways around the home are free of snow and ice in winter
- If possible, relocate your loved one’s bedroom to the first floor, to avoid the use of stairs
- Use nightlights in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms
Additionally, it’s important to make sure your loved one is wearing shoes that are comfortable and well-fitting. All the senior proofing in the world could end up pointless if shoes themselves are a hazard! Furthermore, if your loved one tends to be unstable while standing, provide them with a cane or walker.
Fire and Burn Hazards
Fires and burns are hazards we all face at home, but the elderly are especially vulnerable, particularly if they still cook for themselves. Below are some ways to lessen risk:
- At minimum, install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside sleeping areas, in the kitchen, and on every level of the home, including the basement
- Invest in anti-scald devices for sinks, showers, and bathtubs and set the thermostat on the water heater no higher than 120° F
- Think about hiring someone to meal prep for your senior. If that’s not possible, provide your loved one with long oven mitts that cover the entire lower arm
In addition to installing smoke detectors, include those for carbon monoxide, making sure one is near each bedroom and that batteries are replaced twice a year.
Mishaps with Medications
Many, if not most, seniors take multiple medications a day, putting them at risk of misreading labels, misplacing medicine, and over- or under-medicating themselves. You can help your senior loved one manage his or her medications by:
- Asking your pharmacist to put large-print labels on medications, so they’re easier to read
- Keeping all medications in their original containers, so no mix-ups occur
- Having your loved one take medications in a well-lit room, so labels are read properly
- Asking your loved one’s healthcare provider to review prescriptions from time to time to be sure nothing unnecessary is being taken or that medications haven’t been omitted.
The safety and well-being of your loved one is an important consideration, one that should be addressed on a regular basis. Don’t wait for an accident to happen before you take steps to make your senior’s home a safer place to be.
Senior Care Authority can help you decide on the right living arrangement for the senior in your life. Let us help you. Get in touch today!