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Senior Safety Advice and Guidelines for the Home

Elvis Elvis

As Americans live longer and longer lives, senior safety becomes more of a concern in our society. It is estimated that one-third of all persons 60 years old and older suffer falls each year. Many of us know and/or care for someone in this age group, including myself. My grandfather was one of these statistics, and after falling his health and overall outlook on life never seemed to be the same.

If your parents, or someone close to you is elderly or frail, you should make safety one of your top priorities. Elderly accidents in the home can be much more severe because of brittle bones and thin skin. Therefore, safety precautions should be installed and practiced as soon as possible, particularly when an elderly person is living home alone.

Slips and falls are the main source of injury for older people in the home. Many of these accidents result from hazards that are easy to overlook, but also easy to fix. By taking some time and following these simple steps, many elderly accidents can be prevented. Below you will find some simple lifestyle changes and home improvements that will help increase senior safety.

Senior Safety Advice and Guidelines for the Home

Senior Safety Checklist:

  1. Kitchen

    Lighting: Some seniors might have poor vision, and with the added risk of poor lighting, there could be a serious accident in the kitchen. Improve the lighting by doing the following:

    • Replace bulbs with the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the fixture. If you do not know the correct wattage, then use a bulb no larger than 60 watts.
    • Install additional light fixtures. Pay special attention to the stove top area and any place where sharp objects are used.
    • Easy option: Open the curtains and blinds to let more natural light in. Not only is sunlight a good idea for more lighting, it is a good source of vitamin D for older adults.

    Falling Hazards: Seniors have difficulty reaching items, and sometimes in their attempt to reach an item, they loose their balance and fall. When it comes to reaching items from high shelves, I often wondered how my tiny Grandmother went about this task. When I asked her, she told me that she usually just stands on a chair. You stand on a chair??!! That being said, I warned her about how unsafe that was, and she as usual, just shrugged it off. I had to do something, so I went home to search the internet for a safer alternative.

    After a little bit of searching I found a reaching toolSenior Safety Advice and Guidelines for the Home that allows her to grasp small items from hard to reach places. My grandmother really does use this product, and she likes it, but sometimes she still seems to stand on things, so I purchased a sturdy stepping stool.Senior Safety Advice and Guidelines for the Home I really don’t like the idea of her standing up on anything, but sometimes when she insists on standing on an object, I feel much better knowing that it is strong and has a grab bar for her to steady herself.

  2. Bedrooms

    Rugs/Runners: Falls are the most common cause of fatal injury for older people, and sadly many of these falls could have been prevented. To ensure better safety in the bedroom, check to see if rugs and runners are secured properly to the floor. An easy solution for slippery rugs: apply double-faced adhesive carpet tape or rubber matting to the backs. Once the tape is applied, press the rug to the floor firmly to make sure that it is very secure. Another alternative: You can easily purchase rugs/runners with slip-resistant backing, or rug pads that can be cut to fit most sized rugs.

    **Over time, the adhesive tape can become worn, and slip- resistant backing can become less effective as rugs are washed. Make sure to periodically check to see if new tape or backing is needed.

    Electrical Cords:Another tripping hazard in the bedroom can be electrical cords. Sometimes in an attempt to place something more close at hand, seniors arrange cords in the flow of traffic. This is a dangerous situation for all ages, but can be remedied quickly and easily.

    For Example: My grandmother was having trouble seeing her TV from a distance so she wanted to move it closer. She pointed to a place where she wanted me to place it, but when plugged in, I realized that the cord was a major tripping hazard. With a little reluctance, my grandmother let me rearrange some furniture so that the cord could be placed close to the wall and out of her flow of traffic.

    When checking a bedroom, make sure that cords are not in the flow of traffic. If you do find a hazardous cord, try to rearrange furniture so that the cord stays out of the way. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is placed on the floor against a wall where people can not trip over it.

    Smoke Detectors: Fire Safety is a must for everyone’s home. Make sure that there is at least one smoke detector installed near the bedrooms in any home. If there isn’t one, purchase a detector as soon as possible. When installing a new one, make sure to:

    1. Read the instructions that come with the product carefully.
    2. Make sure detectors are placed on the ceiling or 6-12 inches below the ceiling level.