Senior Safety in the Home
By Jason Royse, President/CEO
Northwest Health and Safety Inc.
It is important to recognize that families need to help seniors to maintain their independence. Independence to seniors is one of the most important and fundamental desires that they have. While most seniors are busy going about their day and planning their retirement or their lunch dates there is usually dangers within their home that can take away their independence in a blink of an eye. It is important that seniors and their families work to help seniors maintain their independence. Doing this is very easy and does not require much, in terms of cost and time. Here are some very easy steps that you and your family can take to provide a safe environment.
- De-Clutter. Make sure that all unnecessary furniture, obstacles, boxes and "things" are moved to an appropriate storage area. Assure main walking areas are clean and free of obstacles
- Make sure all entries are well lit coming in to the home. This includes pathways, steps, garages, carports and other points of entry. Make sure that your house number is well lit on your home
- Assure that the lighting inside the home is adequate, especially in essential areas such as hallways, bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens
- Have a night light next to the bed that can be easily accessed when getting up in the night
- Glow tape can be helpful marking exit points, bathroom and the phone
- Keep a flashlight and fresh batteries nearby in cases of power outage
- Consider - battery backup emergency lighting
BathroomMany falls by seniors occur in the bathroom
- Grab bars are a helpful tool for seniors when getting in and out of the shower/bath areas. Having something to hold on to can be of great assistance. Very easy and inexpensive. There are many types and styles of grab bars designed to accommodate most situations
- Bath mats can sometimes be helpful, but not just any bath mat. Most bath mats sold in the large retail stores can cause more of a tripping hazard than being helpful. Specialized bath mats will secure to the floor using small suction cups and help prevent slips. Remove standard bath mats that can cause a tripping hazard
- Safety treads are a good option for bath tubs and showers. Safety treads are adhesive strips that are placed on the bottom of tubs and showers to help prevent slips
- Raised toilet seats can make getting on and off the toilet an easier and safer process
- Remove any unnecessary clutter and obstacles
- Consider removing those glass shower doors and replace them with curtains. Glass doors have been identified by many senior organizations as a safety risk because seniors tend to use them as grab bars and well..... they break
- Make sure hot and cold water is clearly marked. Turn down hot water heater to save money and reduce the risk of scalding
- Shower Chairs and Bath Benches are proven to reduce the risk of falls in the shower and bath tub
- Use an electric teakettle.
- Set the water-heater temperature at 120°F or less.
- Use a single-lever faucet that can balance water temperature.
- Provide an area away from the knife drawer and the stove where the person in your care can help prepare food.
- Use a microwave oven whenever possible (but not if a person with a pacemaker is present).
- Ask the gas company to modify your stove to provide a gas odor that is strong enough to alert you if the pilot light goes out.
- If possible, have the range controls on the front of the stove.
- Provide a step stool with a handle, never a chair, to reach high shelves.
- Move all heavy cans and other heavy kitchen objects to a lower shelf.
- Consider a medical alert necklace or wrist style button to call for help in case of emergency. Northwest Health and Safety Inc. can provide you discounted services from Alert Sentry. Call for details 1-866-517-8243.
- Carry a charged cell phone in your pocket in case of a fall. Make sure you have important numbers available with the phone.
- Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are tested and inspected regularly.