Home Safety for Seniors

Room by Room

Here is a check list of safety precautions for the older members of the family.

For a healthy and enjoyable old age, fall prevention is essential. Recently published statistics show that 20%-25% of elderly people who break a hip survive less than a year, and those who do rarely return to their previous level of activity. If you yourself are elderly, or you are preparing to have a frail older family member move in with you, it is a good plan to go through the house to check for hazards and add a few safety features.

Come with me on a tour of your home:

Front Path and Steps

  • Make sure that the paths to the house are even, no major cracks, roots or rocks.
  • Keep steps and paths clear of snow and ice.
  • Check the stairs – no holes or uneven concrete.
  • Hand rails, both sides if possible.
  • Path and front entrance well lit. Movement-detector lights work well.

Entrance, Hallways and Stairs

  • Declutter – make sure that shoes are put away and outdoor clothes hung up. If there are children, teach them to put their toys away.
  • Lighting – halls and stairs should be well lit. A night light in the hall between bedroom and bathroom is vital.
  • Take up any loose mats that could be a tripping hazard.
  • Check that stair rails are secure.

Bedrooms

  • No loose mats or rugs
  • Make room around the bed, especially if your elderly Mom or Dad uses a walker.
  • Have an easy to reach lamp by the bed. If it is awkward to reach the lamp, a sound activated lamp (clap-on, clap-off type) will help.
  • A phone beside the bed.
  • For folks stiff with arthritis or others who may feel light-headed when they first stand up, a bed assist handle is a great help in preventing falls.
  • Again, keep the area around the bed as clutter-free as possible.

Bathroom

  • Where possible install wall bars at the end (tap end) of the bathtub and one on the far wall. A wall bar beside the toilet may also help.
  • Some all in one piece, preformed tub surrounds should not have wall bars added. Clamp-on tub grips, or a floor-to-ceiling pole next to the tub can be used.
  • Use non-slip mats in the tub or shower.
  • A tub or shower stool is useful for those with poor balance.
  • Any medications should be clearly marked. A dosette or blister pack will make it easy to keep track that the medications are taken as prescribed.

Living Room

  • Remove loose rugs and mats
  • Make sure that there is room for a walker if one is used – coffee tables often have to be moved out of the way.
  • Avoid rocking/swivelling chairs
  • Loose electrical cords are a tripping hazard. Route them away from traffic areas where possible, or use duct tape to fix them to the floor.
  • A portable telephone is safer than a fixed phone. Many falls occur when people are rushing to answer the phone. Keep the handset nearby at all times, putting it back in its charger beside the bed overnight.
  • Have good lighting, easy to reach switches.

Kitchen

  • Make sure that essential utensils are easy to reach
  • Use a sturdy step stool to reach higher cupboards
  • Have a smoke alarm and be sure to check the batteries regularly
  • If your older person has fairly severe memory loss, it may be necessary to limit their cooking or even unplug the stove.
  • See that any spills are quickly wiped up.

This may all seem quite overwhelming, but most homes need only a few adjustments. After all, some simple precautions could save a broken hip or worse.




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