Senior safety at home checklist
Home Safety for Seniors Checklist—What You Should Know
Senior safety at home is a critical part of independent living for seniors.
Many seniors want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
By making some simple modifications, you can ensure that your elderly parents are safe and secure.
It allows them to maintain their autonomy and dignity.
At the same time ensure that they can live safely and comfortably.
There are several potential dangers that seniors face at home, from slips and falls to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Falls can often lead to serious injury.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death among seniors.
There are approximately 36 million falls reported for older adults that result in more than 32, 000 deaths.
However, with a little bit of knowledge and preparation, fall risks for seniors can greatly be reduced.
Checklist of areas of the home for senior safety
Bear in mind that we are focusing on trip hazards and fall hazards in and around their own homes.
As a caregiver, you are conducting a home safety assessment and looking for potential hazards.
-Non-slip bath mat
-Grab bar by toilet and shower
-Lower towel bars
-Install a shower seat
-Make sure there is plenty of lighting in the bathroom
-Stove knob covers
-Cordless phone or a phone with a large font
-Install safety appliances, such as a stove with locking burners and a microwave with a key lock
-Place nonslip mats in front of the sink and stove
-Raised bed or bed that adjusts to different heights
-Install a railing on one side of the bed
-Ensure that the bed is low to the ground
-Put non-slip materials on the floor around the bed
4. Living Room
-Rocker recliners instead of regular chairs
-Tables with lower shelves
-Secure all furniture and heavy objects so they cannot be easily toppled over
-Install grab bars by the toilet and in other high-traffic areas
7 tips for keeping seniors safe at home
1. Keep pathways and entrances clear of obstacles and hazards
Keeping the home clutter-free is an easy way to prevent falls in the home.
This includes making sure that walkways from the front door are clear of clutter.
Another is to remove any trip hazards, like rugs that could be pulled out from under someone’s feet, or furniture that is in the way.
2. Install handrails and grab bars in the shower and by the toilet and ramps
Adding grab bars in the bathroom and adding railings to stairs are excellent modifications in the home for seniors.
These handrails make it easier for them to grip onto something when they are walking or standing.
Also, encourage your elderly parents to wear non slip footwear around the house.
3. Check all light sources
Good lighting can give a home warm comfort but add security to it.
A well-illuminated corridor can be accessed faster in a clean hallway.
Rooms with a balanced lighting system help reduce hazards and make it safer.
Consider installing night lights in the senior’s bedroom or motion sensor lights in the hallway.
This is reassuring for those moments when need to go to the bathroom or kitchen in the middle of the night.
Ideally, combine overhead lighting and task lighting.
The lighting is connected to the motion sensor automatically and avoids having to hunt for lights or switches.
By providing adequate lighting around the home, you are ensuring your elderly parents can move about confidently on their own.
4. Place non-slip mats in shower and bath areas
Non-slip bath mats are a valuable addition to any bathroom.
They provide extra safety and security when water makes floors and surfaces slippery.
Many of these mats feature a built-in drainage system, which helps to dry the surface quickly and keep it from becoming slippery again.
This will help seniors to keep their footing while bathing or showering.
In the shower area, non-slip mats provide traction to keep seniors from slipping and falling.
In the bathroom, they can help prevent falls on slick surfaces.
5. Install a home security system and medical alert system
Home security systems can play a role in preventing falls.
Motion-activated sensors can detect when someone is getting up or down from a chair or bed.
Sound alarms can alert caregivers who can provide emergency assistance.
This allows caregivers to assist quickly if needed and prevents further injury in the event of a fall.
An emergency call system or personal alert pendant worn around the neck or wrist.
It can be activated if a senior has an accident they can call for help immediately.
6. Create a support system
Organize a roster of trustworthy friends and family who are in regular contact every day.
A quick phone call for a few minutes in the morning may be enough for checking in on elderly parents.
Print out a list of phone numbers for emergency services and stick it on the fridge door for easy reference to call for help.
7. Install smoke detectors and regularly check they are in working order
Smoke detectors installed in the kitchen, bedrooms and near appliances are great ways to avoid accidental fires started by seniors.
Batteries must change once every two years.
Test every week to make sure the smoke detectors are still functioning as expected.
It would also be prudent to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area.
Again, please have it tested by a qualified technician every year to make sure it will function as intended.
Some health factors that can contribute to seniors falling are:
1. Having poor vision or hearing
The aging parent can be more prone to falls due to poor vision.
When people are struggling to see well, they may not be able to properly judge distances or recognize obstacles in their path.
This can lead to trips and falls.
Many older adults have cataracts or other vision problems.
This can make it difficult for them to safely navigate around their homes.
If your elderly loved one is having trouble seeing clearly, make appropriate modifications to their home so that they can stay safe and comfortable.
This may include installing grab bars in the bathroom.
Adding non-skid strips to the floors, and increasing the lighting in key areas.
2. Having a history of falling
One reason why having a history of falling contributes to falls in the elderly is because when someone has a fall, they are more likely to experience another fall.
This is because after a person falls, they may become more fearful of falling again and as a result, may start to limit their activities.
It can lead to a decline in strength and balance, which increases the risk of another fall.
Also, if someone has fallen before, they may have sustained injuries that can make it easier for them to fall again.
For example, if someone falls and breaks their hip, they are at an increased risk of falling again.
This is because the senior’s ability to walk with good balance is now compromised by their fear of falling.
3. Taking multiple medications
One of the leading causes of falls in seniors is taking multiple medications.
The medications can often interact with each other and have adverse effects.
If a senior is taking medications for both high blood pressure and diabetes can result in dizziness and possibly a fall due to the two drugs interacting.
Many seniors are on multiple medications because they are dealing with various health conditions.
As people get older, their bodies become less able to handle the stress of multiple drugs.
This can lead to side effects such as lightheadedness, confusion, and unsteadiness, all of which can increase the risk of falling.
4. Having reduced mobility
Reduced mobility is a major factor that contributes to falls in the elderly.
When seniors are unable to move around as easily as they used to, they are more likely to lose their balance and fall.
When they are inactive their muscles can weaken over time, making them less stable and more prone to falls.
Many seniors have difficulty seeing clearly and managing their balance as they age, which increases their risk of falling.
5. Living in a cluttered or hazardous home environment
When homes are cluttered, it can be difficult for seniors to move around freely and safely.
This can lead to them tripping over objects or stumbling on stairs.
Many hazardous items such as electrical cords and poisonous chemicals can be dangerous for seniors if they fall and hit their heads.
Living in an unclean home can cause seniors to become ill, which will also increase their risk of falling.
6. Poor nutrition
Poor nutrition is a major contributor to falls in elderly individuals for several reasons.
One reason is that malnutrition can weaken bones and muscles, making people more likely to fall.
Poor nutrition can lead to dizziness and unsteadiness, which can increase the risk of falling.
Being malnourished can make it difficult for seniors to recover from falls, leading to further injuries.
All of these factors underscore the importance of ensuring that seniors have a healthy diet and get enough nutrients to stay strong and safe.
7. Lack of exercise
Lack of exercise contributes to falls in elderly people because it can lead to a weakening of the muscles.
This is especially true for the muscles in the legs, which are essential for balance and stability.
When these muscles are weak, elderly people are more likely to lose their balance and fall.
Lack of exercise can lead to problems with circulation, which can make it difficult for elderly people to get up if they do fall.
This increases their risk of becoming injured or even dying as a result of a fall.
8. Chronic health conditions that can lead to dizziness, weakness or unsteadiness
With age comes a higher risk for chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
These conditions can lead to dizziness, weakness or unsteadiness, which in turn can contribute to falls in elderly people.
As people age, they may lose muscle mass and bone density, which can lead to weakness and dizziness.
Many chronic health conditions can cause changes in balance and coordination, which can increase the risk of falls.
They can also cause pain, which can make it difficult for seniors to move around safely.
This is by no means an exhaustive home safety checklist.
However, for concerned relatives and caregivers of elderly parents, this article provides a good framework, tips and suggestions to start implementing.
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