According to AARP, the vast majority of seniors want to remain living at home as they age. However, seniors who live on their own are often at greater risk of suffering from a dangerous fall. Injuries caused by falls are the number one reason seniors visit the emergency room each year, and are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury among older adults.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help safeguard your loved one’s home from potentially life-threatening hazards, and what better time than the start of a new year? Here is a home safety checklist that you can use to make sure that your loved one’s living space is as safe as possible.
Trips and falls most often occur at home where seniors spend most of their time, so it’s especially important to make sure the floors in your loved one’s home are as safe as possible.
- Make sure floors are clear of any objects and/or clutter that may pose a tripping hazard.
- If there are stairs in the home, make sure they are even, free from debris and have sturdy handrails, preferably on both sides.
- Remove area rugs if possible, or make sure they are secured with a nonslip backing and free of frayed edges.
- Make sure all cords, cables, and wires are taped or secured to the wall and cleared from high-traffic areas.
The kitchen can pose safety risks due to hard-to-reach objects and potentially hazardous equipment. Even if your loved one is able to prepare meals on their own, there are some safety measures you can put in place to help protect them from harm.
- Keep frequently used items such as dishes, pots, pans, and appliances at waist level.
- Avoid the use of a stepladder. If this is not possible, make sure the stepladder is sturdy, nonslip, and has a safety bar to hold on to.
- Keep a working fire extinguisher easily accessible in the kitchen.
- Make sure the “Off” switches/buttons are clearly marked on appliances such as the oven and stove. (Try taping a small, brightly colored note on or next to the switches/buttons to help identify them.)
- Make sure all electrical appliances are kept away from the sink.
Dangerous falls often occur in the bathroom due to its wet and slippery surfaces. Make sure the bathroom has the following safety measures in place to help prevent slips and falls. If your loved one is on strong medication or recovering from surgery they should have assistance getting in and out of the bath or shower.
- Install a bench in the shower
- Place non-skid decals or a rubber mat in the bathtub or shower
- Install grab bars by the toilet and in the tub/shower for support
- Make sure the floor has a nonslip surface and bathmats are secured to the floor with a nonslip backing or double-sided tape
Getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom can be dangerous, as night vision is often poor and waking from sleep can be disorienting. Taking the following precautions can be critical to ensuring your loved one’s safety.
- Place a lamp next to the bed so it is easy to reach
- Make sure the path from the bed to the bathroom is clear and well lit. Inexpensive motion-sensor nightlights can help with this.
- Make sure the bed is an appropriate height and your loved one is able to get in and out of it with ease.
Additional Safety Tips
- Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the home and are in good working order.
- Set the hot water heater to 120° Fahrenheit to prevent scalding.
- If your loved one lives alone, have them wear a medical alert device to ensure they can to reach help if disabled from a fall.
These home safety tips are a good place to start for keeping your loved one safe and reducing the risk for falls. However, it’s important to regularly evaluate your loved one’s ability to live independently. At some point, they may require additional assistance and supervision to remain living safely at home.
If your family is considering in-home care to help ensure your loved one’s safety and well-being, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping your loved one enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.