Some quick changes can make living at home more comfortable and secure for older adults.
With many more adults choosing to age in the home, an AARP study shows that 77% of Americans over the age of 50 want to age at home for the long term.
As we age, however, and mobility and response time slows down a bit, minor safety hazards around the house can become more significant. For the elderly (and their loved ones), taking a few basic home safety measures can go a long way toward making home a safe and comfortable place to live.
A few things about Home Safety for the Elderly Before We Get Started
Senior safety hazards come in many forms. Falls, fires, and tasks or situations that require swift movement and reflexes may be problems for elderly home living.
While every senior will have different challenges and concerns, there are some precautions that are universal, such as making sure that surfaces are level and nonslip, grab bars are in place where they’re needed, and the ability to call for help is easily accessible and nearby.
Perform a Home Safety Assessment
Walk around the home of your elderly loved one. Look at the places where you stop and put your hand out on the wall, where you catch the toe of your shoe, and where water might drip or puddle and cause a slippery spot.
Look to see where any landline phones are and where the address book with important phone numbers is kept.
Identify dark places in rooms that need extra light and where there’s not enough space to comfortably move around. If you’re not confident that you’ll see what needs to be done our team can help you establish what needs to happen to make your elderly loved one’s home safe.
Eliminate Fall Hazards Around the Home
A Fall can happen in any home to anyone, not just to the elderly. However, people over the age of 65 are more likely to suffer injuries when they fall, and if they are living alone, immediate assistance might not be available.
- First, you’ll need to identify places where slips are likely.
- Throw rugs are a hazard: While they’re pretty, it’s easy to catch a foot so catching a toe under the edge of the rug can lead to a fall. Taping them to the floor or carpeting can reduce this hazard without sacrificing style.
- Thresholds and stairways are also likely locations for falls; making sure there are secure handrails and adding textured no-slip strips or safety steps with treads can help.
- Small (or large) pets who tend to get underfoot can be dangerous in a home with elderly residents. Tripping over a beloved pet will often cause a person to fall in an awkward way as they try not to injure the pet, potentially injuring themselves far more seriously.
Keep a list of emergency numbers visible and accessible.
In the middle of an emergency, details get for gotten. Many of us now keep all of our important phone numbers in our phones, making it even less likely that we’ll remember them in a moment of crisis.
For a senior who is injured or in danger, scrambling to find an address book or a misplaced cell phone will likely only increase the danger, so posting a list of critical numbers in a visible spot—or more than one spot—can mean that help can be on the way sooner.
911 is simple to remember, but the list should also the numbers of Physicians, Health care givers, family members and friends or neighbors to call in an emergency.
This list should be visible and easily accessible from inside, but please do not post the list where it can be read through a window from outside. These phone numbers could be used for fraudulent purposes
Remove fire hazards from the home.
In case of a fire, an elderly person might not be able to react as quickly or move as swiftly as is necessary to get out of the home, so it’s important to reduce the chances of a fire taking hold in the first place and stock the home with warning devices.
Make sure you have smoke detectors in every room. located in the kitchen, bedrooms, and near appliances. The batteries should be changed twice a year.
Many people choose to change them when Daylight Saving Time begins and ends.
Check all appliances for frayed cords and functioning emergency shutoffs. Consider having an electrician come in to assess the condition of electrical outlets and service. Then make sure extension cords aren’t strung together and outlets aren’t overfilled to avoid electrical shorts and overheating.
Be sure that any space heaters being used are at least 3 feet away from soft furnishings to avoid accidental blazes.
Address safety concerns in the bathroom and the kitchen areas.
- Check the water temperature, which should be at or below 120 degrees to ensure that if the hot water is turned on without mixing with cold, it won’t burn someone.
- Make sure bathtubs, showers, and bathroom floors should have nonslip or textured surfaces that keep floors from getting slick when they’re wet.
- If your elderly loved one is having trouble getting in or out of the tub or maintaining balance in the tub, consider adding a shower seat so that showers can be a pleasant chance to relax instead of fraught with concern over a fall.
- Ensure bath mats have non-skid rubber backing so they don’t slide across the floor when they’re stepped upon. Add adhesive padding to corners or sharp edges of rugs.
- Add a sturdy grab bar alongside the toilets if needed.
Make Sure Rooms are Well Lit
Good lighting makes a home feel warm and welcoming, and makes it safer for your elderly loved one. Well-lit hallways are easier to navigate. Rooms with balanced lighting make hazards easier to see and avoid or correct. Bathrooms and kitchens with clean, bright light make showers safer and cooking easier.
Ideally, include a combination of general overhead and task lighting.
- Connect lighting to motion sensors so that lights come on automatically, avoiding the need to fumble around in the dark for a lamp or a switch.
- Upgrade the light switches in the home, if needed.
- Make Sure lighting over the sink and hobby tables, work areas are well lit.
- Installed plug-ins or strip lights tucked under cabinets.
- Make sure closets are well lit, this makes finding clothes quick and easy and avoids the problem of digging around in the dark to find a favorite sweater.
- Exterior lighting is important. We recommend floodlights that have motion sensors.
- Make sure there’s adequate lighting around the front door and any entrances to make unlocking the door a quick and easy task.
Stairs; Make sure they are safer
Keep stairs and stair cases clear of clutter with well-tacked-down carpeting and a sturdy railing—ideally on both side. This will allow elderly loved ones to access upstairs and downstairs with as little risk as possible. Make sure there is good lighting around any stairs.
If necessary, consider installing a stair lift for the resident if they are no longer able to use stairs safely.
A Security System Creates Peace of Mind
Investing in one of the best home security systems can make any home safer. Security Systems create home safety for our elderly loved ones with additional benefits.
- A smart-home security system allows for control over lighting and door locks, making it easy for the resident to check that everything is locked and turned off without descending the stairs again before bed.
- Doorbell cameras that connect to devices allow seniors to check to see who is at the door before opening it, or choose not to open it if they don’t recognize the visitor.
- Connected voice-activated assistants offer residents the ability to call for help (to dial a phone to reach a family member or friend, call an ambulance or the police, or summon a family member who is elsewhere in the house) if a phone isn’t immediately available.
- Door and window sensors or outdoor cameras to the system can provide outstanding peace of mind to elderly loved ones, because the security system will alert them (and the authorities) if a break-in is in progress.
Alliance Senior Care’s In-Home services offer a wide range of services providing healthcare, daily living assistance, transportation to and from Doctor’s appointments and tailored care services for additional circumstances.
To learn more about how In-Home Care can help improve your loved ones’ quality of life, call Alliance Senior Care at 248-274-2170. It’s not just In-Home Care, it is Integrated Care.
Home Care Services are an excellent resource for family caregivers and seniors alike.
Alliance Senior Care Home Care services offer a wide range of services providing healthcare, daily living assistance, transportation to and from Doctor’s appointments and tailored care services for additional circumstances.