If you’re a senior or have a loved one who is, you would know that after a certain age, our bodies are not what they used to be. We can become accident prone, and as we all know, injuries sustained—even if minor—can be quite troublesome.
This is even more of a concern for seniors who live alone as opposed to with a professional assist or a 55 and over community. In such cases it is important to apply certain safety measures by way of modifications made to the home as well as other arrangements.
The idea here is firstly to prevent accidents to begin with. Secondly, to ensure that if something does go wrong, the senior living alone will be able to tend to themselves, call for help and hold on till it arrives.
Safety Checklist for Seniors
We’re going to go over a list of precautions, home modifications and other arrangements you can make to help make the living space safer for yourself or your loved one.
Before we begin, a point worth making note of is a study published by the Kansas Department of Health states that falls account for over 80% of the injuries sustained by senior citizens. Many of these occur within the home which is why we will focus a fair bit on fall prevention strategies among other tips provided by elder care and independent living consultants over the next few paragraphs.
Starting from the ground up, the first thing to pay attention to is the flooring. You don’t want to use flooring material that is too smooth or slippery. It is important to use either carpeting or flooring material that that provides enough friction and hence slip prevention. Even if you do lose your balance, chances are, you won’t slip and fall if the surface you’re on provides enough traction.
Keeping the home well and adequately illuminated is extremely important when setting up a home for a senior. Visual impairments aside, it is easier to fall over things if a space isn’t lit well enough. Besides rooms and other living spaces, it is important to keep corridors and staircases well lit.
The light switches should all be easily accessible.
Safety railings are a good addition to the home space of any senior. They provide that last minute fall breaker which helps prevent a lot of serious injury. Besides around stair cases and in certain passage ways, it makes sense to install sturdy safety railings in places like bathrooms and kitchens where floors can get damp and slippery.
Additional Surface Slip Prevention
You have mats and slip prevention material that you can also place in certain areas. Again, kitchens and bathrooms as well as stairs would do well with additional slip prevention.
Things like television cables, extensions and phone cords should be kept well out of the way. These things are easy to trip and fall over and could hence cause injury. It is also smart to do away with low furniture such as short height tables that one could knock into and get hurt because of.
Keeping the space clear of obstructions helps to ensure that, the senior living in the space can move about without the risk of accidental injury.
Though this one is lower in the list, don’t let that give you the impression that it isn’t just as important as anything else. Fire safety is crucial especially if there is a senior living in the space alone. Installing a fire/smoke alarm is important as well as establishing clear exits in case of emergencies.
It is important to put up emergency contact numbers at various parts of the house. It even makes sense to write out 911 as in the case of head trauma or concussion, even a young person might forget the simplest of details and information.
Make sure emergency numbers are clearly written out and pasted in more than one room within the home.
A mainline telephone is great however, it would help to equip the home with a cordless phone incase the cell phone is not an option (like with senior citizens who have older mace maker models for instance). The cordless phone can be kept close at hand at all times and will be quick and easy to access in case of an emergency.