Home Safety For Seniors & The Elderly

When it comes to physical health as a senior living independently, many people tend to focus on eating right and exercising regularly. While keeping a proper diet and exercise regimen are incredibly crucial when it comes to maintaining one’s physical well-being when getting older, other aspects required to maintain one’s physical well-being, such as senior home safety, are often overlooked. Making sure that your home is safe and that you are ready for emergency situations are components of physical well-being when continuing to live independently that should be given as much attention as having a well-balanced diet and regular exercise routine.

One of the leading causes of accidents inside the home for seniors and elderly persons are falls. As people get older, the hazards of falling down become more amplified: not only will the effects of old age cause the body and bones to become weaker- making getting up after or recovering from a fall that much harder- but in the presence of medical issues and conditions as well as the side effects of certain medications, falls and their consequences can potentially lead to fatal results.

Removing clutter on the floor as well as keeping floors as clean will go a long way at preventing many falls from taking place. While cleaning and removing clutter from floors can drastically reduce the occurrence of potential falls, there are other measures that seniors and their loved ones can take to make sure that seniors and elderly persons can safely and comfortably continue to live independently. Here are some home safety tips for seniors and the elderly that will further help the effort in preventing falls and accidents:

  • Install shower/tub grab bars: Grab bars are the number one measure for fall and accident prevention that one can take in the bathroom. Not only are the floors of showers and bath tubs obviously slippery, but getting in and out of the shower or bath tub can become more and more of a hassle as one gets older and older- grab bars can help make getting in and out much easier.
  • Install an additional railing or extendable handrail to stairs: Getting up and down the stairs as a senior can be dangerous as well as a physical hardship- installing an additional railing opposite to the existing rail or an extendable handrail will help keep make ascending and descending the stairs less taxing on the body and keep seniors from falling or slipping.
  • Of course, living in a house without stairs would eliminate the need for installing railings altogether, but many seniors living in houses with stairs neither have the option nor the means to move into a house or dwelling without stairs. Installing an additional or extendable rail will also help keep seniors from developing a sense of being trapped and isolated from being physically unable or scared to use the stairs.
  • Place non-slip mats on floors: You should make sure to place non-slip mats on any floor that has a slippery surface, such as wooden or tiled floors, and non-slip inserts should be placed in the shower and bathroom.
  • You should remove any mats or rugs that can bring about potentially slippery situations
  • You should also remove any floor treatments that have made floors more slippery than they need to be if possible.
  • Set up a medical alert system: The purpose of a medical alert system within the home is to give seniors and the elderly the ability to call for help in the event of an accident or emergency. For example, an emergency pull cord installed in bathrooms can either set off flashing lights to alert an in-home caregiver or call the local emergency response agency in the event that a fall or other emergency in the bathroom has caused a serious injury and left the senior immobile, unable to physically get help.
  • Medical alert systems tend to include the installation of movement indicators and alarms for doors as well as the aforementioned emergency pull cords.
  • Improve lighting conditions: Dim lighting typically increases the potential for falls and other physical accidents to occur since vision tends to deteriorate as people get older. As people notice their ability to see in the dark as begun to diminish, it is recommended that they switch their lower-wattage light bulbs to bulbs with a higher-wattage to improve visibility.
  • Night lights can also help prevent fall and accidents from taking place, especially in the middle of the night.

Emergency Preparedness for Seniors & The Elderly

When it comes to being comprehensively prepared for an emergency or disaster, seniors need to create a plan and a personal support network. According to the American Red Cross, a personal support network is one that is composed of various individuals- such as family members, friends, roommates, personal attendants/caregivers, neighbors, and co-workers- that can check-up on the status of seniors in the event of an emergency or disaster and will also be capable of delivering any necessary assistance as needed.

When developing a emergency preparedness plan and personal support network, there are several important aspects to consider and implement in order to ensure that your plan and personal support network will be efficient and effective:

  • The most effective personal support networks as those that are arranged early and prior to the occurrence of an emergency or natural disaster. Arrangements should be made so that your personal support network can easily and immediately respond to seniors and the elderly in the event of an emergency or disaster.
  • Make one individual in charge of each aspect of your plan. For example, one person should be responsible for organizing, and distributing emergency supplies and equipment, another person should be in charge of coordinating communications and group meetings, and so on.
  • Make sure that each individual in your personal support network has a copy of the steps to be taken in the event of an emergency or natural disaster as well as any relevant identification and emergency documents.
  • Make extra copies of the plan and identification/emergency documents and keep them handy
  • Distribute any necessary keys to individuals in your personal support network
  • Make sure that all individuals in your personal support network know where emergency supplies and equipment are stored; make sure that everyone knows how to use these supplies and equipment.
  • Practice the methods of contacting and communicating with one another as given in your emergency preparedness plan. Take care to plan for the different types of emergencies and disasters that can occur and to implement communication strategies tailored to each type.
  • Make sure that you incorporate methods of communication that do not rely solely on phones
  • You and the individuals in your personal support network should regularly update each other on any travel and out-of-town plans. Let the people in your network know your departure and returning dates.

Make sure that the relationships within your personal support network are mutual- that is, each individual should be in your network out of their own free will and are not being forced. It is important that your group is mutual and cohesive as each member will need to contribute and help one another in the event of an emergency or disaster.

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