Staying safe at home can help your elderly loved one maintain their independence and quality of life. Preventing falls, the leading cause of death and serious injury in the senior population, is key to a long, happy life at home. Two main factors, personal and environmental, contribute to senior citizens’ fall risk:
- Personal factors include muscle weakness, balance problems, limited vision and certain medications
- Environmental factors include home hazards such as loose rugs, poor lighting (especially on stairs) and a lack of stair railings or grab bars in the bathroom
Home safety tips for seniors
In order to help keep senior citizens safe at home and on the go, learn these senior safety tips and facts:
- Focus on balance. Exercise regularly to maintain strength, and rise slowly after eating, sitting or lying down to help avoid dizziness and loss of balance.
- Medicate safely. Improper use and handling of medication can create serious safety concerns. Check medication expiration dates on all prescription and over-the-counter medications – and follow all directions.
- Store medications safely. Medicine is best kept in its original container, but if you must transfer medication to a new container, clearly label it with the medication name, dose, and expiration date.
- Have easy access to emergency numbers. Post National Poison Control Hotline and other emergency numbers next to all phones. Be sure to add emergency numbers as contacts on your mobile phone as well.
- Wear an alarm device. Consider wearing an alarm device in case you fall and cannot get up on your own.
- Get annual eye exams. Ensure your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date and that you do not have any conditions that limit your vision.
- Handle driving with respect and honesty. If you or your loved one has declining driving abilities, consider alternate forms of transportation. The decision, while difficult, can save lives.
Prevention safety for senior citizens
Prevent unnecessary falls and improve your safety by making yourself aware of environmental hazards. Take action to remove fall risks from your home by:
- Install secure handrails and bright lights with switches at the top and bottom of stairways.
- Repair loose or uneven steps. Check stairs for worn or loose carpeting and install anti-slip treads.
- Always wear shoes with traction and make sure throw rugs have non-skid backing.
- Install grab bars for the toilet, bathtub and/or shower, and use non-slip mats or decals on ceramic surfaces both inside and outside the tub.
- Install nightlights in areas you frequent at night. Also, consider keeping a flashlight near your bed.
- Store frequently-used items on lower shelves in the kitchen to limit the use of stools or step-ladders. If you must use a step stool, use one with a bar to hold onto.