In-home care offers senior citizens the best of both worlds: independence and customizable, personal attention. It’s no wonder then that it’s become an increasingly popular option. With this in mind and the arrival of National Safety Month this June, there’s never been a better time to assess the safety of older adults living alone. Read on for tips to minimize common domestic hazards such as falls, burns, and poisoning, but be mindful that this isn’t a one-time fix. You’ll want to conduct ongoing checks to maintain safe conditions. You may even want to hire an occupational therapist or nurse to visit your home to help evaluate danger.
Tips to Minimize Common Domestic Hazards
Reports show that more than 75% of accident-related injuries occur in the home, and for senior citizens, the odds rise even higher.
Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC, Chief Clinical Quality Officer for BrightStar Care®, offers the following checklist to help make each major area of the home safe for seniors:
- Store sharp knives and other utensils in a rack.
- Mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances clearly and with bright colors.
- Throw away expired food promptly.
- Ensure that your loved one avoids wearing loose, long-hanging clothing when cooking over the stove.
- Purchase silicone heat-resistant handle covers for pots and pans.
- Choose tea kettles and space heaters with automatic shut-off functions.
- Consider limiting cooking only to when in-home care professionals are available.
- Separate toxic cleaning supplies from food items.
- Clearly label prescription medicines and keep them in a well-lit area to minimize confusion.
- Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower floor.
- Keep a nightlight with a fresh bulb for nighttime bathroom trips.
- Clearly label cold and hot faucets.
- Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below to lessen the risk of scalds.
- Keep a nightlight illuminated in the room.
- Make sure there is a nightstand next to the bed with a lamp, telephone, clock and additional space for any other important items (such as medications).
- Place emergency numbers near phones
- Consider a medical alert device to enable the elderly to summon quick help in the event of an accident
- Clear floors of obstacles that might cause tripping, such as phone cords and loose floor mats.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor and periodically check the batteries
- Front and back doors should have strong, bolted locks and a peephole.
- Stairways should be free of objects and handrails should be sturdy.
- Clean up spills right away.
- Regularly salt and shovel outdoor stairs and walkways in the winter
Use this Home Safety Checklist to guide you through key environmental considerations to see where you can increase home safety and reduce the likelihood of falls in your home or that of a loved one.