Safety at home is vitally important for seniors. Family members of senior loved ones often cite safety at home as a major factor when looking for assisted living arrangements, with concerns ranging from possible falls to the ability of the senior to operate home appliances safely. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand the concerns of family members as well as the need for the senior to retain as much independence as possible, so we’ve compiled some home safety tips to share.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four seniors falls each year, with less than half of that number informing their doctor about the accident. While many falls don’t result in serious injury, one in five causes an injury such as a hip fracture or head injury. The CDC makes several recommendations for fall prevention:
- Remove throw rugs and excess clutter like books and magazines from the floor, especially in high traffic areas. Be sure extension cords are secured and check for loose flooring that could present a trip hazard.
- Be sure your home has adequate lighting; install bulbs that provide bright light with no glare. Automatic night lights are a great idea for nighttime trips to the bathroom or kitchen.
- Install railings on both sides of stairs, as well as grab bars in the bathroom, both inside and outside the shower or tub and next to the toilet.
- Keep walkways outside the home clear of grass clippings, weeds and mulch in the summer and ice and snow in the winter. Be sure to install exterior lighting near all entrances to the home.
Burns are unfortunately one of the most common accidents at home for seniors, and since older adults do not respond well to burn treatments, burn and fire prevention are critical for safety at home. According to homeadvisor.com, individuals with balance, vision or memory issues experience a higher risk of burns. To lessen the risk of a fire or severe burn, keep the following in mind:
- Set water heaters to a lower temperature. Conditions such as peripheral neuropathy interfere with some seniors’ ability to feel pain, leaving them vulnerable to burns. Some medications also inhibit the pain response, so decreasing the water temperature helps manage this risk.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home. Look at ways to simplify cooking, such as the use of a microwave instead of a conventional stove or oven. Many communities offer meal services for seniors as well, with home delivery or a community dining room available.
- Remove sources of fire, such as lighters, candles and cigarettes if the senior is unable to use these safely. Plan an escape route as well, practicing the route frequently. Post emergency numbers in an easily accessible area of the home.
Many seniors take multiple medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease; additionally, medications are often prescribed for acute conditions such as infections or injuries, leading to a complex daily regimen that can increase the risk of accidental overdose. With older adults often seeing several different medical providers, the risk of unsafe drug interactions is also increased. Safemedication.com recommends some commonsense tips to decrease this risk:
- Keep a list of each medication taken, both prescribed and over-the-counter. Include all vitamins and supplements. Provide this list to each doctor at each visit, as well as a trusted family member or friend in case of emergency. Talk to your provider about any side effects experienced.
- Use one pharmacy. The pharmacist can check for drug interactions and help to maintain a current medication list.
- Stay on schedule. Take all medications exactly as prescribed and maintain a daily routine to help decrease the risk of a missed dose or an accidental overdose.
At Senior Lifestyle, we know that whether your senior loved one is living in their own home, with a family member, or in a senior community, safety at home is a concern, and it’s a priority in our communities. For more information about a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.