Home Safety Tips for Seniors
Whether you are moving into a smaller home or apartment in an independent living community or just planning on staying in the house you’ve lived in for years and hiring a home care agency, you should consider some practical improvements to your home. With the addition of a few safety features, you can rest assured that your home will remain safe and secure.
Many aging individuals want to stay independent for as long as they can. Quite often their families feel the same way as well. However, safety is a major concern. According to the National Safety Council, falls are the leading cause of injury death among seniors 65 and older. Not all falls and accidents can be eliminated, but by addressing the potential hazards in a home, safety and peace of mind can be greatly increased.
The most dangerous room inside the home is the bathroom. Slips and falls are more common here than in any other part of the house. With a combination of hard surfaces, cramped space, and wet surfaces, bathroom safety is a serious concern for aging individuals.
Bath and shower safety should take priority when addressing potential hazards inside the home. The installation of grab bars inside and outside the bath tub will make getting in and out much easier and safer. Installing grab bars will reduce the urge to reach for the towel rack for support, which is not designed to support weight. The toilet is another area where grab bars would be beneficial. A raised toilet seat will also make it easier to use.
Another consideration is the addition of a seat or bench inside the shower or tub to sit on or use as additional support. If a bathtub has sliding shower doors, consider removing these and replacing them with a shower curtain.
Simple fixes in the kitchen can make this area safer and more user-friendly. Consider replacing the existing cabinet hardware with something easier to grab if the current handles make it difficult to get a good grip. Consider replacing the kitchen faucet for the same reason. Levered handles are much easier to use than knobs. Also check below the sink to ensure there are no plumbing leaks which could pose a slip hazard or encourage mold and mildew.
Other areas to check
Proper lighting is of prime importance in the home. Aside from ensuring each room has light fixtures that produce enough light for aging individuals to see by, the addition of night lights will enhance safety at night, especially when placed in hallways, stairways, and bathrooms.
Remove clutter or extra furniture that may pose as a hazard. This would include any furniture that may tip over if used for support. Cushion the sharp edges of furniture or vanities if these pose a hazard.
Make the house thermostat easier to read and adjust by installing one with a large backlit display. Adjust the temperature on the water heater, if needed, to prevent the chance of being scalded. Inspect or install smoke alarms and replace the batteries annually. In the event of an emergency, make sure you have an escape plan.
We all want to stay independent for as long as we are able to take care of ourselves. With a few basic safety additions and checks to the home, older adults can extend this time and keep their peace of mind as well.