When you want to be safe at home as a senior, there are some things you have to consider. Problems that face seniors are very different from the problems that face others. So, to ensure your safety, go over this home safety checklist:
- Do you have poor lighting?
Good lighting on stairs, and anywhere the elevation changes can reduce your chance of falling. It is also smart to add bright strips of tape to the edge of each stair to help you see the stairs better. Another part of lighting is having access to lights. So you have switches in easy to reach places, at both ends of the hallways, etc.? Well you should. Consider putting a night light in the bathroom to make night trips to the bathroom easier.
- Do you have throw rugs?
While throw rugs can protect your carpet and look really nice, they are not great for senior safety, they are a tripping hazard. If you are not going to get rid of them, then at least make sure the edges are secure, and fastened down with adhesive, double-stick tape. If they slide at all, fix the problem, or get rid of them.
- Are walkways clear?
Clutter can be hazardous, even things like shoes, electrical cords, and the newspaper can be hazardous. Furniture too. Organize, rearrange, and make things easier.
- Are regularly used items in easy reach?
You are asking for trouble if items you use regularly are hard to get to. Make sure you have items you use often on shelves between hip and eye level.
- Are your floors slippery?
Do you have spills that go un-wiped? Do you have hard wood with rugs without non-slip pads? You want to make sure you have non-skid mats on the floor around sinks, tubs, etc. to keep them from being slippery.
- Can you get in and out of the tub easily?
Slips usually occur in the bathroom for seniors. So, install grab bars or handrails in the shower, on walls around the bathtub, where necessary. If mobility is difficult for you, then be sure to use raised seat and safety rails for toilet use.
- Do you have furniture that is difficult to get in and out of?
If you want to ensure safety and the ability to get to the phone if there is a problem, make sure you have firm chairs, with armrests, and good back support so you can get in and out easily.
- Are your phones easy to access?
If something were to happen to you, you would need to call for help, so make sure your phones are easy to get to. Consider a PERS (personal emergency response system). By pushing a single button, which you usually wear around your neck, you can summon help. This eliminates the worry of having an in-home injury without being able to reach a phone, and means not worrying that you may lie on the floor helpless and in fear.
- Are your shoes designed for fashion of function?
As you get older you are more prone to disorientation, slipping, falling, etc. So, wearing shoes that are supportive, properly fitted, non-skid, and rubber-soled means decreased likelihood of this.
There are many more things to consider:
- Use fireproof curtains on windows near the stove.
- Clearly mark the “off” position on stoves and ranges so a person with diminished eyesight can immediately tell if the element is off.
- When cooking, don’t wear loose fitting or flammable clothes. Long sleeves can catch fire easily.
- Be sure to tie your hair up before cooking with any open flames, or wear it short.
- Install smoke detectors in the kitchen and throughout the house.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.
- Set water heater thermostats or faucets so water does not scald the skin.
As a senior, safety should come first. If you want to continue to live in your home, and if you want to maintain your independence, then you need to make precautionary changes to your home and lifestyle so as to ensure your safety.