Many adults prefer to remain in their homes as they age. After all, it’s comfortable, familiar, and—well, it’s home. As people age, however, and mobility and response time slows down a bit, minor safety hazards around the house can become more significant. For the elderly (and their concerned relatives), taking a few basic home safety measures can help make your home a safe and comfortable place to live as you age.
How To Make Your Home Safe as You Age
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With aging skin and decreased bone density, seniors often have difficulty recovering from falls — both physically and financially.
Follow these home safety tips to reduce fall risk and keep aging adults safe in their own homes:
Remove trip hazards
Area rugs, electrical cords, low tables, and ottomans are all potential hazards. If there’s a pet or child in the home, be sure to keep toys picked up. Install non-slip flooring and cover all cords and wires.
Install grab bars in your tub or shower
Most in-home falls occur in the bathroom. Grab bars can be purchased at hardware stores and easily installed by plumbers, DIY’ers, or home safety specialists.
Provide easy seating
Make the home senior-friendly by adding accessible seating, like a bench near the front door for putting on shoes. Kitchen and shower stools make it easier for seniors to perform daily activities, like cooking and bathing independently.
Make thresholds easy to cross. This is one of the first things you should do in a home to help make a home safer for seniors. Raised flooring between rooms can be a significant trip hazard. Ask a safety expert about flattening thresholds or adding indoor ramps or handrails.
Don’t forget outdoor spaces
Check the driveway for cracks regularly, and be sure there’s a clear path to the mailbox. Remove potential trip hazards like rocks and roots from the yard.
Help An Aging Relative Keep Their Home Safe
With loved ones living longer and needing more care, many families struggle with the best way to help an aging relative. Adapting your home to accommodate another’s needs is a step some are hesitant to make. However, if you’re contemplating this move, consider advice from the experts who say the trend is likely to continue as the nation’s population ages.
Here are a few things to consider when preparing your home or assisting with a safety check for an older adult living on their own.
Low-cost Home Safety Modifications
Many people feel that they can make these budget home modifications themselves.
- Add textured, no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower.
- Apply nonslip wax on floors.
- Place a waterproof seat or chair in the shower.
- Put nonskid treads on the steps.
- Remove throw rugs.
- Remove the wheels on chairs around your home.
- Replace standard doorknobs with level handles.
- Replace the toilet with a raised or high-profile toilet.
- Use rubber-backed bathmats.
Expensive Home Modifications
These home modifications often require professional help to make a home more accessible to a wheelchair.
- Alter the shower for walk-in rather than step-over entry.
- Create zero-threshold entryways.
- Move light switches for easy reach from a wheelchair or bed.
- Widen doorways and hallways
Home maintenance is key for seniors aging at home. Create a home safety checklist to review monthly, and suggest home safety assessments annually. Here are questions to include on your list:
- Does each level of the house have a working smoke detector?
- Does the home have a carbon monoxide detector?
- Are there easy-to-use fire extinguishers in all common rooms of the house?
- Has the furnace been inspected?
- Are the towel racks, bath mats, and handles secure?
- Have burnt-out light bulbs been replaced?
- Are there poorly lit places where smart lights or motion sensors with bulb alerts can be installed?
- Have laundry lint traps been cleaned?
- Are there funny smells, signs of hoarding, or excessive trash around the house?
- Are your loved one’s doors and locks working properly?
Keep a list of emergency numbers visible and accessible
In an emergency, details can fly out of your head. Many of us now keep all of our important phone numbers in our phones, making it even less likely that we’ll remember them in a moment of crisis.
For a senior who is injured or in danger, scrambling to find an address book or a misplaced cell phone will only increase potential hazards. Therefore, posting a list of critical numbers in a visible spot—or more than one spot—can mean that help can be on the way sooner.
911 is simple to remember, but the list should also include the Poison Control number (1-800-222-1222) in case of a medication mix-up or accidental ingestion, the numbers of family members and friends or neighbors to call in an emergency, and the number for health care providers.
This list of phone numbers should be visible and easily accessible from the inside. However, do not post the list where it can be read through a window from outside. Criminals could use the phone numbers and names of friends and family members for fraudulent purposes.
Making Your Home Safe As You Age
In order to make your home safe as you age, it’s best to start preparing before an emergency or life-changing event. Proper precautions can reduce fall risks, and fewer injuries make it easier for seniors to age at home. Lastly, medical alert tags such as Life Alert can help protect your loved ones in a home health emergency.
Our goal is to keep you or your loved one healthy, happy, and safe at home. The Promedcare team of management and caregivers understands the importance of providing care within the comfort of one’s own home. Families choose Promedcare for different reasons. For some, it’s to provide extensive ongoing care for an aging senior. For others, we offer a much-needed break or, respite care – such as a night out with a spouse, vacation, or simply a few hours of quiet time at home – for family members who provide regular care. We offer a wide range of care services customized for each individual client.
Contact us today to see how Prodmedcare can help you!