It’s also vital that they stay safe, something that friends, family members and other loved ones find important, whether they live there or live elsewhere. The team at Accredited Home Care knows that this reassurance will make a difference to loved ones and seniors themselves.
Certainly retirement communities and assisted living centers are able to provide all sorts of safety and security for any age or health condition. Many of these places also provide activities and social stimulation, plus varying levels of care and medical attention.
But as appealing as some of these communities can sound, some seniors prefer to stay in their own home if given the choice. They have all their possessions, decorations and memories, and they likely know the neighborhood. They don’t want to move unless they have to, especially to somewhere unfamiliar.
However, as appealing as it can be to remain independent, seniors can face regular challenges making sure they remain safe at their home. Seniors have higher risks for certain types of injuries, accidents or health conditions. So if some sort of injury does occur, such as a fall or stroke, it could potentially require a temporary or permanent move to a community or perhaps a rehabilitation hospital.
Falls can be especially damaging, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which said 1 in 4 adults age 65 or older will fall. As of 2017, falls were the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. The number of these and costs to individuals and the Medicare system is also expected to grow as our population ages.
So it makes sense for independent seniors to make sure their house and living situation are safe and secure for them and for any visitors.
This month is the perfect time to perform a walk-through to identify potential hazards, obstacles or other possible health risks and look for improvements. Aug. 21-25 is National Safe at Home Week, an opportunity for seniors around the country to learn more about local resources to help people remain independent as long as possible.
Different areas of the home can require different levels of attention. Modifications can also be made based on someone’s health condition or physical needs. For instance, someone who is required to use a wheelchair might require different accommodations, physical changes and safety features at a home vs. someone with a cane. Someone required to use portable oxygen may have different safety needs than someone with an injured limb.
This overview can be a good starting point for ways to improve safety, or even especially dangerous areas of the home.
- Bathroom. The bathroom can be a particularly dangerous location. Water can spill on the floor from the sink, shower, or bath and make the floor more slippery. Some motions and activities can be challenging especially for someone with mobility challenges such as getting in and out of the bath or shower. If someone does lose their balance, there are plenty of dangerous spots where they can hurt their head or other body parts. Improvements can include adding non-slick pads or rubber mats to the floor or tub surface, or rails by the shower or toilet.
- Kitchen. This place also requires different types of motion such as bending and lifting. It also requires paying attention if someone uses a stove or oven. If someone is distracted or forgetful, there’s a high possibility of fire risk if a burner remains on or something flammable is close to a burner. There are also health risks if someone doesn’t notice that food has spoiled. Safety strategies can include having working fire extinguishers nearby, going through food regularly to make sure old food is properly disposed of. A step stool can also help someone reach higher into cupboards or counters. Staying in the kitchen during prep time can also help keep people from being distracted and forgetting.
- Hallways. Having rails regularly placed can provide something to grab onto if someone loses their balance. Removing tripping hazards like area rugs and carpets can help. Keeping lights on or small lamps throughout the hallway can help identify things that can be tripped over and prevent people walking in the dark.
- Bedrooms. Getting in and out of bed can also be a challenge, but rails/handles can help. Brighter lights can also make it easy to see any tripping hazards.
- Living room. Keeping pathways clean can help avoid tripping. Bumpers/corners can be added to the edge of furniture to avoid hurting by running into them.
- Stairs. Railings on both sides are a must. Consider an automated lift. Be sure stairs are cleared of obstacles, and lights are at the top and bottom.
Find help today
The team at Accredited Home Care is always eager to help clients assess their homes and provide suggestions on safety improvements. It can also offer a variety of skilled caregiving assistance to provide peace of mind to seniors and their families.