We are an ageing society and we continue to live longer. Consequently, its never been more important to keep people in their homes as long as possible, and as healthy as possible. Some of the keys to keeping people living independently are to be proactive. By preparing homes for the changing needs of the elderly can prevent hazardous falls, and also keep our seniors feeling apart of the community. So, what do we do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and secure in their homes? Here are some tips to consider.
1. Take an honest appraisal of the living space in question and look for ways to prepare for living with the possibility of reduced mobility, balance and memory. And prepare the home for the possibility of caregiver access.
2. Are all areas of the home well lit? Perhaps consider installing motion-activated light switches that will light up hallways and rooms the second motion is detected. This may prevent a dangerous fall and injury in the middle of the night.
3. Are the floor surfaces non- slip, and free of throw rugs, electrical or phone cords that become tripping or slipping hazards?
4. Avoid acquiring pets that could get under-foot or require leashes and long walks. As we age our mobility and balance change. A big or hyper dog, for example, requires a great deal of care and can cause falls that are potentially hazardous to fragile bones.
5. Stairs, whenever possible, should be avoided. A living space all on 1 level is preferred but not always possible. If you have stairs, make sure they are always free and clear of any clutter. There should be a sturdy handrail installed on both sides of the staircase. The stairs should also be well lit, in good repair and have anti-slip strips installed on each one. If you use reading glasses, remove them before using the stairs.
6. Fire safety is also very important. Make sure there are working smoking detectors on every level, and in the sleeping area. Avoid using power bars, extension cords and space heaters. Have heating systems regularly serviced and CO detectors installed. Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher in easy reach in the kitchen.
7. The bathroom may seem insignificant, but it can be the source of many falls and injuries. Have an anti-scald faucet installed in the shower to prevent burns and ensure the hot water temperature is set at the recommended temperature. Safety Grab bars should be installed in the shower, tub and beside the toilet. Consider a raised toilet seat and a shower chair. Make sure the bathroom door lock has an emergency release and that there is a night light or motion light installed.
8. The Kitchen is a favourite place in many homes. It too has it’s share of potential hazards. Of course, the stove is a major hazard. Make sure switches are clearly marked for “on” and “off”. Avoid heavy large pots and keep oven mitts handy.
9. The bedroom should be equipped with a night light, and an easily accessible lamp or light switch that can be reached from the bed. Always make sure there is a clear path to the bathroom and turn on lights. Keep a phone and a list of emergency numbers near the bedside.
10. The garage is often a favourite place and home of many powerful tools and equipment. Keep tools and equipment in good working order. Be prepared for the different seasons. Have salt and sand on hand for the slippery winter conditions. Never barbecue inside your garage or leave a car idling. And be careful how chemicals are stored, such as gasoline, paint thinner, batteries etc.
These 10 tips are just touching the highlights of home safety.
Today’s technology allows us to do many things to help ourselves and our loved ones.
Everything from monitored alarm systems, camera systems and emergency mobile pendants can help keep our seniors stay healthy and independent much longer than in previous generations. Take advantage of all or some of these options! Many can be done at minimal cost and can be very beneficial.