As people age, they become more vulnerable to trips, falls, and other hazards as mobility, eyesight, and hearing begin to decline.
Many older adults wish to retain their independence and stay in their homes as long as possible, so it’s important to make modifications to the home to make it more safe and reduce risks for falls and other injuries.
Taking these safety precautions coupled with planning for home care services as the need arises can allow a senior to age in place longer.
Take Care Of The Largest Risks First
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of all injuries in people ages 65 and older. Due to decreasing bone density and aging skin, these seniors have a more difficult time recovering from these injuries, as well.
Besides the physical demand on the individual’s body, these falls often take a toll on their wallets, as well. Longer recovery times add more to hospital and rehabilitation bills. So, it makes sense both physically and financially to take measures to prevent falls whenever possible.
The following precautions will go a long way in preventing falls for yourself or your aging loved one:
- Install grab bars. Especially important in bathrooms, these safety bars can help seniors keep their balance as they go through their activities of daily living, such as bathing and toileting. You may also consider installing them in the bedroom for dressing, undressing, and getting into and out of bed.
- Look for trip hazards. Removing all trip hazards from the home can significantly reduce the risk of falling. Area rugs, cords, ottomans, low tables, and pet dishes can all be trip hazards. If children or pets live in the home be sure to keep toys and other equipment cleaned up and off the floor whenever possible. You may also consider installing non-slip flooring to stairs or other areas that might be slick.
- Install accessible seating to the home. Placing a bench near the front door to safely put on shoes or a stool in the shower can help keep seniors safe and prevent common falls.
- Check outdoor spaces. It’s easy to get caught up on installing safety features inside the home and forget to ensure outdoor safety. Driveways, sidewalks, and outdoor stairs can be hazardous if they are cracked, uneven, or in need of repairs. Make sure steps have non-slip grips installed and keep them clear of snow and ice. Large rocks, holes, or roots in regular pathways can also pose as trip hazards.
Make Good Use of Advances in Technology
With advances in technology came a whole host of applications and devices that can increase the safety of any home.
A few that are worth considering for senior home safety are:
- Medical alert devices. These are typically wearable (like LifeAlert) and have a button that easily allows seniors to call for emergency help if they need it. Some of these devices even provide fall detection that would alert emergency services even without the senior pressing the button. This way, if they were knocked unconscious or disoriented, they would still receive the help they need.
- Specialty cell phones. There are cell phones made just for seniors and designed to make emergency help more accessible. Some are equipped with built-in GPS tracking and already connected to emergency networks.
- Smart home devices. There are many uses for smart home devices for seniors from automatic medication reminders to calling for help through a voice-activated system.
- Telehealth services. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services became widely-accepted as it was the only way for most patients to access their doctors. But even without the pandemic, it is comforting to have 24/7 access to a medical professionals for anything that might crop up.
Create a Checklist
Walk through and around the senior’s home and make a list of all the things that will need addressed. Create a checklist from your observation and work through it by priority.
Some things you might want to add to your checklist include:
- Are there functional smoke detectors on each floor of the home?
- Is a functioning carbon monoxide detector installed?
- Is the house fully-equipped with fire extinguishers that are regularly-inspected by qualified professionals?
- Is the heating system regularly-serviced and inspected?
- Are all fixtures securely attached to ceilings and walls?
- Are all light bulbs in good working condition?
- Are all areas of the home well-lit?
- Is there clutter that needs to be removed?
- Are the laundry lint traps cleaned regularly?
- Is there a security system installed?
- Are all doors and locks working well?
- Are there any signs of mold such as odors or visual sightings?
- In extremely hot climates, is the air conditioning system working and all filters cleaned regularly?
- In climates that get snow in the winter, is there a stock of easily-accessible ice melt readily available to pour on porches, stairs, and walkways?
Additionally, for those seniors dealing with dementia:
- Do appliances have automatic shut off features?
- Are there finger guards installed on garbage disposals?
- Are drawers and cabinets containing dangerous items like knives, cleaning supplies, or medications locked at all times?
- Are exterior doors secured conspicuously to prevent wandering outside the home?
- Are locks removed from interior doors to prevent accidental lock-ins?
Many seniors do not even realize that their home needs to be modified for safety. Especially those seniors that have become accustomed to their home over decades.
It’s always best to prepare for emergencies before they occur and prevent accidents such as falls than to deal with the aftermath of such an event.
Home Care Services
While making safety modifications to homes can increase safety for seniors, there can still be a need for assistance with things like cleaning, cooking, and even activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, eating, etc. The level of home care needed will vary greatly from person to person.
Come Home To Bellaire At Devonshire
While many older adults wish to remain autonomous as long as possible and age in place, sometimes it becomes too unsafe to do so. Sometimes the senior just wishes to move to a place with no worries of cooking, cleaning, or property maintenance to live out their golden years focused on doing the things they love each day.
Whatever your story, we would love to give you a tour of Bellaire at Devonshire and introduce you to our friendly team and resident family. Schedule a tour today and discover the Bellaire at Devonshire difference for yourself!
Don’t forget to pack your senior living community checklist to make sure all of your questions get answered during your tour.