Caring is sharing. Feel free to pass this along to your senior loved ones.
When you first bought your home, you were likely considering if it had enough bedrooms and bathrooms to grow into, whether the kitchen/dining area had space for the entire family, if the yard was big and if there was plenty of storage. You probably didn’t consider whether it would work for you in retirement as well. And, in fact, it may not from a safety perspective. Yet, if you’re like most seniors, you plan to age right where you are. What can you do? Follow these home safety tips.
Home Safety Stats for Seniors
According to the Home Safety Council (HSC), an average of more than 7,000 people age 65 and older die each year in the United States due to a home injury. Falls are the leading cause of home injury deaths, injuries from fires at home are the second leading cause and poisonings are the third leading cause.
What’s more, the HSC’s State of Home Safety in America report found that U.S. seniors experience an average of 2.3 million nonfatal home injuries each year, most of which are due to falls as well.
While these injuries could happen to anyone, seniors can be at greater risk due to weaker muscles, more brittle bones, slower reaction times, impaired vision and balance, or perhaps even diminished cognitive abilities.
How to Stay Safe at Home
These tips can help make your home safer as you age, and give you some peace of mind!
Fall Prevention – Make sure to clear walking paths, place handrails on both sides of the stairs, have adequate lighting, remove throw rugs, install grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom and make sure you have the appropriate mobility devices to move around the home safely. Also, consider getting a reach stick for items that are up high to avoid standing on step stools or ladders.
Fire Prevention – Always stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking and avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes, keep flammable items (dishtowels, paper/plastic bags, curtains) at least 3 feet from the cooktop and keep grills 10 feet away from the house, shrubs or bushes. If you must use space heaters keep them at least 3 feet from anything flammable and always turn off when leaving room. Have someone inspect your furnace and/or fireplace yearly and never leave a room with a candle burning. Also, don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords.
Emergency Preparedness – In addition to 911, have the number for poison control as well as your neighbors and identify at least two ways to exit your home. Make sure to have smoke alarms/carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and near every bedroom and check them twice a year. Have easily accessible fire extinguishers and consider installing a home fire sprinkler. Also, consider getting a generator in case of a power outage to keep oxygen and dialysis machines functioning. Plus, a personal emergency response system – wearable call button that contacts first responders and/or a friend or family member in the event you need emergency help – is a must.
Medication Management – With most seniors managing multiple prescriptions each day, it’s easy to see how medication errors can be made. To reduce that potential make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and read the package insert, take medications as long as prescribed (even if you feel better), refill prescriptions early to avoid running out and keep track of medications/dosage times with written charts, pill organizers or even apps that allow you to set reminders.
Personal Safety – This definitely falls under home safety too, as many seniors fall victim to scams. To protect yourself, don’t be pressured into making purchase, signing contracts or making donations until you’ve discussed it with a trusted friend or family member, never share personal information (SSN, credit card, bank account or passwords) with strangers and always ask for written details of offers or prizes, and wait to respond until you have reviewed it thoroughly.
Senior Living Can Make It Easier
If your head is spinning, we get it! While helpful, these home safety tips can be a lot to manage, not to mention the potential cost. On the other hand, senior living communities are designed specifically to support you as you age with safety features from emergency response systems to grab bars to wheelchair ramps along with an easy to navigate environment that minimizes steps and fall hazards as standard.
What’s more they offer convenience with home maintenance, housekeeping, laundry, nutritious meals and transportation all taken care of for you in addition to senior care and help with medication management. As an added bonus, you’ll enjoy a full calendar of social events, outings and enrichment opportunities!
For more information, check out our Stay or Go Guide or schedule a virtual tour →