When it comes to having an older parent living at home, safety can be a concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of all falls happen at home. Perhaps even more startling is the statistic that one-third of adults over the age of 65 falls each year. Of these, it is estimated that fewer than half of those who fall tell their doctor. Falls in the home are a threat to the independence and safety of senior citizens. There are several steps that people can take to make the home a safer place. Here are six ways to ensure a safer environment for seniors who live at home.
1. Lighting – A dark environment makes it easier to miss the details. Replacing burnt-out light bulbs and providing adequate lighting in every room, especially the bathroom, can prevent accidents and falls.
2. Bathroom Safety – A study by the CDC notes that nearly a quarter of a million people age 15 and older are treated in the emergency room every year due to injuries sustained in the bathroom. The study also shows that about 30 percent of those over the age of 65 who are injured in the bathroom sustain broken bones. Prevent bathroom injuries by installing proper grab rails and putting down non-slip surfaces. Another helpful option is a shower chair or bench.
3. In-Home Assistance – One way to keep seniors safe is to provide someone to assist them with the tasks of daily living that aren’t as easy as they used to be, especially for those with arthritis, chronic illness or recent surgery. Non-medical home care from a company like Ready Hands Home Care can include services such as meal preparation, doing laundry and providing assistance with some household chores.
4. Clear Upper Shelves – Placement of items high on shelves in the hall closet or kitchen pantry can be a recipe for disaster. Reaching up high to remove objects can result in loss of balance, falling objects and life-changing injuries. Removing these items removes the risk.
5. Exercise – Regular exercise can prevent weak leg muscles. Strength and balance lessen the chances of taking a fall.
6. Home Safety Check – A home safety check should involve a walk-through by an in-home care assistance provider such as Ready Hands Home Care. Tripping hazards and high-risk areas should be remedied immediately. These might include unstable railings, stray electrical and phone cords, loose floor mats and area rugs that don’t lie flat. Another hazard is any item that significantly narrows a walking path, such as a magazine rack by the sofa or an end table by the doorway.