People tend to think of the home as a safe and welcoming environment that offers comfort and solace. While this is generally true for the most part, there are some particular areas in the home that may present a higher risk of injury or illness for older adults. As strength and balance begin to decline, the risk of injury sustained in a fall increases considerably. And falls aren’t the only risk, there are other hazards or incidents that can occur in the home that can be avoided with good preparation.
Prevalent Risks That Can Threaten Senior Home Safety
Knowing the areas in the home and common occurrences that can compromise home safety is the first step towards the prevention of injury. Some of the risk factors to be extra vigilant about to improve home safety include:
- Rugs and mats
- Flood, fire & carbon monoxide
Going up and down steps becomes more difficult to negotiate with age as joints tend to become less flexible. Conditions like chronic inflammation, arthritis, and osteoporosis can make it especially challenging to navigate long or steep staircases.
Making sure stairs are always kept completely free of clutter removes potential trip hazards. If railings or banisters are not present on both sides of the stairs it can be helpful to install grab bars for better balance and support. Extra precautions should be taken on outdoor stairs in the winter which present a high risk for slip and fall accidents. A good Ice Melt product is an effective way to improve foot traction on slippery stairways.
The bathroom holds an array of potential hazards, and many bathrooms are tight, confined spaces that can be awkward to get around in. Plus, the frequent use of water and electricity in such a tight space can be perilous. Depending on construction, sometimes it may be difficult for seniors to get in and out of the tub or step comfortably over a high shower sill.
Non-slip bathmats help prevent falls in the shower and well-placed grab bars offer enhanced safety and peace of mind. Customized toilet seats can also be implemented to make sitting down and standing up less strenuous.
Another potentially hazardous room in the average household is the kitchen. The combination of appliances, high heat, expired food, and slippery surfaces can increase the risk of injury and illness. Setting a timer with an alarm notification when cooking on the stove can provide an effective reminder to ensure everything is turned off.
Fridges should be regularly purged to get rid of any old food that may cause illness. Appliances and sharp utensils should always be used with the utmost care and caution.
Rugs and Mats
Loose rugs and matting around the house present an unnecessary trip or slip hazard. Any rugs or mats that are not securely fixed in place should simply be removed or secured with adhesive tape.
Older adults are often taking an assortment of medications at any given time to treat various ailments. Medications should always be safely stored and taken exactly as directed. Keeping track of when and how prescriptions should be taken can be confusing and difficult to manage without assistance. Establishing a well-organized routine for taking medications can help prevent missed doses, taking too much, and improper administration.
Flood, Fire & Carbon Monoxide
Regular home inspections are effective for monitoring overall home safety. Taking preventative measures against flood and fire can help avert disaster. Functional fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and routinely checked.
Home Caregivers Can Assist With Home Safety
Caregivers from a professional home care agency can offer a diverse range of services to improve safety and wellbeing. Home caregivers can help make the home safe and comfortable for your loved one while assisting with routine tasks and activities and effective medication management.