Seniors can stay safe at home by preventing falls, having a way to call for help and taking correct medication. Homes should have working safety equipment and emergency supplies.
One of the most important safety concerns faced by seniors is how to avoid injuries caused by falls. Because the elderly are often prone to fractures that occur as the result of falling down, it is important to make the entire home, both indoors and outdoors, as “trip and slip safe” as possible.
One way to prevent falls is to eliminate all loose scatter rugs or mats from floors, as it is very easy to trip over the edge of the rug. Walking devices such as canes or walkers can also get caught in the edge of loose rugs. Seniors should always wear shoes with rubber soles to avoid slipping on bare floors as well.
Walking surfaces should also be kept clear of electrical cords or other small items that can be tripped over. Hallways throughout the home can be equipped with safety rails to aid in walking.
Outdoor walkways and stairs should be swept clean of any debris. During winter months the home should be equipped with a supply of sand and salt to melt snow or ice on exterior surfaces to make going outside as safe as possible.
To prevent falls and stay safe while bathing, rubber mats with suction devices should be applied to the floor of the shower or bathtub. For help in getting out of the bathtub, there are special railings that can be screwed onto the side of the tub. Sturdy shower chairs with arms also help seniors to stand up after showering and aid in maintaining balance while stepping out of the shoulder. Safety rails are also very useful around the toilet.
Being able to call for help in the event of a fall or other sudden illness is another vital safety issue. Seniors should subscribe to a paging service where a dispatcher can be notified in case of an emergency. This involves wearing a device that can be activated at all times.
In addition to the call pendant, it is also a good idea to carry around either a cordless or cellular phone. The phone can be clipped onto a belt and worn by the senior as he or she moves throughout the house. They should always check to make sure the phone’s battery is adequately charged each day.
A senior’s home should have a working smoke detector in every room, and batteries should be checked once every month. The home should also have a least one or two carbon monoxide detectors. The kitchen should be equipped with a fire extinguisher that the senior can operate alone.
In the event of a power failure, working flashlights should be kept in several locations throughout the house, because these are much safer to use than candles. A supply of bottled water is good to keep on hand, in the event that an extended power failure also causes the water supply to be shut off. Prepackaged and other ready to eat foods should be available when any cooking equipment becomes non operable.
Seniors often take many different types of medications. To avoid taking too little or too many prescription pills, it is helpful to utilize a pill dispenser. A friend or family member can help to distribute a weekly supply of medications into the dispenser so that each day the correct dosage is available. The expiration dates on all over the counter medications in the house should be checked to ensure a medication’s effectiveness.
Seniors can stay safe in their own homes primarily by preventing falls and by making sure that there is always a way to call for help. When safety equipment is in good working order and the home is equipped with necessary supplies and medication dosages are correct, seniors will have a safe environment for living.