Studies show that nearly 15 million older adults live alone in the United States. Those studies also found that about 90% of those people wanted to maintain their independence despite dealing with things like increasing health issues and feelings of loneliness. If you’re one of those people, following some easy home safety tips can help you accomplish that.
Just like with VIPcare’s health model, home safety for seniors is all about prevention. Use these tips to stay safe at home and stop any potential problems before they can get started.
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for older adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s because as we age our bones become more brittle, many people deal with diminished strength, and walking or balance problems are common.
The good news is there are several things you can do to help prevent falls.
First, you should remove any throw rugs that are in your home. While they may look nice, they can cause you to slip or trip.
Another good move is to arrange your furniture so there’s as much open space in the room as possible. Get rid of or store any furniture that you don’t need. Having extra chairs tables in the home can create more opportunities for falls.
Lastly, make sure you wear non-slip footwear while you’re inside.
Assess The Stairs
Stairs can be difficult if you have any issues with balance. It’s a lot of work getting up and down them.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the steps are all clear of any clutter. You’ll also want to make sure it’s easy to see each step. Vision problems can make it difficult to differentiate between each stair.
Stair railings make it easier to maintain balance when you’re going up and down. To ensure the railings are secure, test them out before you put your weight on them. A loose or shaky railing could throw you off balance.
If you can’t get up and down the steps, a stairlift is something you should look into.
Make The Bathroom Safe
The bathroom is a prime spot for falls. You should make sure there are rubber mats in the bathtub or shower to prevent slipping.
A walk-in shower may be something to look into if you have trouble stepping up over the ledge of a bathtub. You may benefit from a raised toilet seat, as well.
Another way to stay safe is to install grab bars in the shower and close to the toilet. They can make it easier to get around and give you something to hold onto in case you slip.
Lastly, to prevent scalding make sure the water heater is set no higher than 120℉.
Take Kitchen Safety Measures
Home safety tips for the kitchen are all about accessibility. Start by pulling things down from high shelves so they are more easily accessible. These should be all the things that you use regularly.
For the times you do need to reach for things that are up a little higher, use a small step stool. Make sure it’s no taller than two steps.
Remember Fire Safety
While you’re working on the kitchen, make sure the smoke detector is functioning properly. Do the same thing throughout the house. Batteries should be replaced twice a year. If you are cooking, make sure you’re not wearing any loose clothing that could accidentally catch fire.
Your next step is to check the electrical cords of all of your appliances. Any that are frayed or damaged should be replaced.
If you have a heater, make sure it is at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire. It’s important to remember if there is a fire in your home you should get out immediately and call 911 with your cell phone. Don’t try to put it out yourself.
Protect Against Poisoning
The most common issue in this department will be with medication mistakes. Make sure all of your medications are properly labeled and easy to read. Use some type of pill dispenser to track your medicine intake.
Cleaning products can also be dangerous. They need to be stored in properly labeled containers. Never mix any cleaning chemicals together, as they can create dangerous gases if the wrong combination is mixed.
Lastly, you should have carbon monoxide detectors in the home.
Keep Emergency Numbers Handy
In the event of an emergency, you don’t want to have to go searching for the phone number of someone who can help. Post a note with all the essential numbers next to each phone in the home.
The important ones to include are 911, poison control, a family member or friend as an emergency contact, and your healthcare provider.
If you have a cell phone, make sure it’s easy to use. Get a simple phone instead of a fancier smartphone if you don’t want any of the special features. If you do have a nicer phone, try increasing the font sizes on the screen so they’re easier to see. And make sure you know how to quickly get into your contacts list to find the appropriate numbers.
A Few More Things To Watch For
There are a few more home safety tips to consider.
First, make sure your home is lit well. Having any darker areas can make it harder to see and increase your fall risk. Add a lamp or nightlight to any areas that need brightened up a little.
Lastly, beware of any unknown people who come to the door or call. It’s unfortunate, but there are people with bad intentions who will target older adults.
Don’t open the front door for anyone you don’t know. If you do answer, don’t commit to making any donations or sign a contract for a service before you’re able to look into the legitimacy of what’s being offered.
The same goes for phone calls. Never give out your personal information over the phone. Take down the information from the caller. Then talk with a friend or family member about it later to make sure you’re not being scammed.