Home safety for seniors

by User Not Found | May 24, 2011

Senior safety in your home can be of paramount importance. The facts are clear—more than 15,000 seniors aged 65 and older die each year as a direct result of a fall. Further, the lack of senior safety can cost you in financial ways you had not even imagined.  Considering that in 2008 over 61% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. were filed by seniors who had suffered a fall-related injury which led to debilitating health issues, senior safety is not a subject to take lightly. 

Senior Safety and the CPSC

The Consumer Product Safety Commission believes that a large number of injuries older Americans sustain occur in their own homes. Many of these injuries are the result of a hazard, which was relatively easy to fix, but was simply ignored or overlooked. Taking the time to make some basic changes in your home can prevent a serious or fatal injury, so make those corrections now, before it’s too late. Take a walk through your senior home, trying to look at it with fresh eyes to see what changes need to be made to maintain your safety. 

General Senior Safety

Though it may seem obvious, many people do not have emergency numbers posted by their telephone—take the time and do it now. Check all cords you see lying around your home, especially those attached to appliances and lamps. Make sure they are not in your main traffic patterns, causing a potential trip hazard. Check your water heater thermostat—or have a friend or relative do it—to ensure it is set at 110 degrees or lower to avoid an accidental scalding. All of your medications should be stored in a safe place, and be clearly marked to avoid taking the wrong medicine at the wrong time. 

Senior Safety in the Kitchen

Next to the bathroom, the kitchen can be one of the primary areas seniors can be injured. Senior safety is especially important here. Stove and sink areas must be well-lit, and if you cook on a gas stove, ensure it is equipped with pilot lights and an automatic cut-off. Never have a cook stove located under a window where curtains may be hanging down, and always make sure pot and pan handles are turned away from the edge of the stove—you would be surprised how many people inadvertently bump the handle, dumping hot water and food onto them, causing serious burns. 

Disconnect your small appliances when they are not in use, clear your countertops of unnecessary items, and make sure you promptly wipe up any spills or grease. Finally, make sure you wear short-sleeved clothing while cooking, as the CPSC estimates that over ¾ of all of those who die from clothing fires are over 65, and the majority of those were wearing long sleeves. 

Senior Safety in the Bathroom

Because so many falls occur when getting in or out of the tub and shower, senior safety in the bathroom is extremely important. Your bathtub or shower must have a non-skid mat or non-skid strips in the bottom where you stand, and any bath mats must be non-skid or tacked down with rug tape. If your shower or tub has doors rather than a curtain, make sure it is glazed with safety glass. Grab bars are an essential ingredient of senior safety in the bathroom, and should be installed on the wall beside the bathtub, shower and toilet. Make sure the grab bars are the right height for you specifically—an important aspect of elderly care. 

Senior Safety in the Living Room and Bedroom

The main issue in your living room and bedroom will be lighting – you don’t want dark spots where you can’t see what’s on the floor. Also, check all rugs and runners to ensure there are no trip hazards. If you have furniture that is difficult to get out of, consider getting new furnishings that offer easier access. Install night lights in your hall, bathroom and bedroom, especially if you get up often during the night. If you have a corded phone, make sure the cord is not in your walkway. 

Stairs and Senior Safety

Stairs can be a particular issue when considering senior safety. Do the stairs in your home allow secure footing? Are there any worn treads or loose carpeting? If so—repair or replace promptly. Even small differences in step surfaces or riser heights can cause you to inadvertently fall, so any steps like this should be clearly marked, and you should take special care when navigating these steps. 

Once you have thoroughly checked the inside of your home for senior safety, it’s time to take a look at the garage and outside!

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