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Home Safety Tips for Older People

Prioritizing safety keeps folks living in their own home longer.

Editor's Note: This post has been updated since it's original posting on January 22, 2014.

As a senior, your safety in your own home should be a top priority for you and your loved ones. However, until you make some modifications, your home could be full of hidden dangers. Accidents, such as falls, could land you in the hospital or a long-term care facility. To avoid these serious consequences, you and your family must work together to make your home safer.

Home Safety Tips for Older People

 

Keep Pathways Clear

To avoid falls, keep the pathways in your home clear. Some items, such as furniture, are easy to dodge during the day. However, at night, you may not see clearly and could accidentally bump into a misplaced chair or table. Other seemingly innocent items on your floor, such as throw rugs, can also cause you to stumble. Keeping these paths clear will also help you stay balanced if you need to use a cane or walker. You should also keep the paths outside of your home clear. If you live in a snowy climate, consider hiring someone to shovel your sidewalks in the winter. With a clear sidewalk, you'll be less likely to slip and fall.

Improve Lighting

Insufficient indoor lighting can lead to falls and other accidents, especially at night or on cloudy days. If a light bulb burns out, replace it yourself or ask a loved one to replace it immediately. You can also add some additional lighting to key places. For example, using night lights in your hallways will help you find your way to the bathroom in the dark. Finally, keep a flashlight on your bedside table at all times. If the power goes out, you'll be able to find your way around your home.

Reorganize Your Shelves and Cupboards

If you're constantly pulling a chair or step stool over to reach an item on a shelf, it is time to reorganize your shelves. In your kitchen, place heavy items, such as flour and sugar containers, on the bottom shelves of your cupboards. Any items that you use every day should be left on the countertop. You can also reorganize your bathroom to eliminate extensive reaching for commonly used objects, such as your toothbrush and toothpaste.

Install and Maintain Home Safety Tools

To protect yourself from fire, ensure that your smoke detector is fully functional. Have a neighbor or a relative check on your smoke detector each year. You should also get a carbon monoxide detector to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning. These devices should be placed near the bedrooms in your house. For extra protection against burglars, you can hire a company to install an alarm system in your home.

Stay Connected to Loved Ones and Emergency Help

If you do fall or have another accident, you need to get help immediately. Keep a phone or medical alert system handy so that you can summon help immediately. Sometimes using a phone button might be difficult to use or out of reach.? Most medical alert systems come with a wrist bracelet or neck pendant that you can carry with your at all times.? It allows you to call for help with the push of a button and talk to an expert who can call for right help.

By making the above adjustments to your home, you may avoid falling down or getting injured in your house. A few simple modifications can make a big difference to your safety and go a long way to make your feel comfortable.

Medical Care Alert has three systems, HOME, HOME & YARD, and HOME & AWAY medical alert systems that would help you with making your home a safe haven. Call us today at 1-855-272-1010 to learn more about these three great alert devices for elderly folks.

When a senior lives independently in their own home, they're more vulnerable to certain injuries due to their age.

But, many injuries among seniors can be prevented with a few safety steps to make the home safer and prevent falls.  Check out our handy infographic below to see the biggest risks and key areas to focus on within the home.

Some of the biggest areas to make safe in the home include:

Living Room:

  • Remove clutter and scatter rugs
  • Clear any blocked pathways
  • Remove or repair unstable furniture

Bathroom:

  • Keep floors dry
  • Make shower/bath areas easily accessible
  • Install grab bars in the shower/bath and near the toilet
  • Add non-slip mats to the floor and bathing area
  • Keep shampoos and other bottles easily accessed

Bedroom:

  • Prevent falling out of bed
  • Make closets and dressing areas clear and accessible
  • Add lighting
  • Remove clutter and scatter rugs

Kitchen:

  • Avoid spills or other slick areas
  • Keep items off of high shelves
  • Use a step stool or grabber if able to
  • Use the microwave instead of the stove
  • Make sure smoke detectors are working
  • Install Carbon Monoxide detectors, especially if using gas appliances
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy

Stairs:

  • Fix Uneven steps
  • Repair or remove loose carpeting
  • Secure handrails

 

Common In-Home Injuries Among Seniors

These are some of the most common in-home injuries among seniors.  Many of these can be avoided with proper safety measures taken to prevent falls among the elderly.

Falls:

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in adults age 65 and older.  

Ankle Sprains:

When walking around the home or exercising, older adults have a higher risk of rolling and twisting their feet, causing the ankle joints to move from their normal positions.  Many older adults avoid physical activities because they are afraid to sprain their ankles or fall.   Low impact exercises for seniors like water aerobics or chair yoga can help with balance and keep you active.

Groin Injuries:

It's common for older adults to overstretch or rip their hip adductor muscles, causing painful groin injuries.  These injuries are painful and make it more difficult to walk.  To prevent these accidents. older adults should pace themselves and increase their exercise activities gradually.  While this kind of injury can be embarrassing to talk about, it should never be ignored and always discussed with your doctor or care provider.

Lower Back Injuries:

Many older adults deal with thickened ligaments, disc degeneration and arthritic facet joints - all which increase the odds of lower back injuries.  To prevent back issues, watch your weight and exercise to create good posture.

Head Trauma / Traumatic Brain Injury:

Falls and vehicle accidents are common among older adults, raising their chances of sustaining head injuries.  Falls are the #1 cause of  traumatic brain injury (TBI) in seniors and elderly adults.  Older adults suffering from head trauma have a higher risk of developing conditions like dementia and Parkinson's disease.  Always wear a seatbelt when driving, use assistive devices like canes and walkers, and limit alcohol consumption.   

Fires and Burns:

Fires and Burns can be caused by leaving the stove on, having a space heater, smoking, or equipment malfunctions among heat generating devices.  The risk is higher among older adults who cook, increasing their risk of scalding or burning themselves.  Try these  kitchen safety tips at your home.

Choking & Other Food Related Incidents:

Food safety is a real concern, especially among older people with vision issues, allergies, or hard to read or confusing food labels.  The risk of choking is higher among older elderly adults, especially if they are talking or laughing while eating.   Learn to do the Heimlich Maneuver if you are around seniors who are prone to choking.