As we age, our physical abilities may begin to change. Because of this, elderly people are more prone to injuries around the home. Injuries such as falls, burns and cuts are seniors’ most common accidents. According to Statistics Canada, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors, with one in three seniors being likely to fall at least once in a given year.
Part of healthy aging is taking action to prevent such accidents. For seniors living at home, it’s essential to implement at-home safety tips either for yourself or with the assistance of your family. These safety resources can help you or a loved one stay healthy and independent for longer.
Four home safety tips for seniors
General Home Safety
It’s always a good idea to keep emergency contact numbers handy. Consider writing or printing out emergency contact numbers, taping them beside your phone, and writing them on your mobile device. As a best practice, take note of 911, poison control (1-800-567-8911 toll-free in B.C. or 604-682-5050 in Greater Vancouver), a family member or close friend and your healthcare provider.
This way, in the case of an emergency, you or someone else knows whom to contact to get appropriate help.
The presence of water, prescription drugs (often found in the medicine cabinet), and cleaning products can make bathrooms hazardous. Below are tips to help avoid the hazards mentioned above.
- Install grab bars in showers and beside toilets to make getting around more accessible and safer.
- If you have mobility issues, consider getting special shower seating to make showering easier.
- Always keep medicine in its original labelled containers. Ask your pharmacist to print or clearly write out directions for taking medication to avoid confusion.
- To avoid slips, put rubber mats in the shower and a non-slip mat outside the shower.
- Always read the directions and warning labels on cleaning products to avoid unwanted spills or chemical reactions. Be sure to dispose of empty or expired products according to the label.
- To avoid the risks associated with scalding water, set your shower to a maximum of 120°F (50°C). If you are unsure how to do so, try calling a local plumber or relative for assistance.
Cooking and baking are beloved activities to many seniors, but don’t be fooled; the kitchen has several hidden hazards. Be sure to look out for these:
- Slippery surfaces: Look out for spills from drinks and the tap. If something spills, never leave it, even only for brief periods. To help avoid slips, place rubber mats near the sink. You can also wear non-slip socks!
- Hot surfaces: Stoves, ovens, kettles, and dishes are sometimes extremely hot, even if they don’t appear so. Never grab things off of the stovetop without first checking. For more information on burns and fire safety, refer to this resource.
- Lighting: Ensure the kitchen is well-lit at all times to avoid slips, burns, falls, cuts and other accidents. This is particularly important for those with vision impairment. Automatic lights and motion sensing bulbs can help provide round-the-clock lighting when needed.
- High storage: Be sure to store all appliances in easy-to-reach areas. While it helps keep the kitchen clutter-free, storing items in high, hard-to-reach places expose seniors to unnecessary risks attached to reaching for high, heavy objects.
Stairways and walkways
The following tips are simple yet crucial ways to help eliminate tripping hazards. Consider asking for help from a friend or family member to assess your home to ensure it is safe.
- Keep walkways clear of cords, cables and all clutter that could be a tripping hazard.
- Install handrails on both sides of all stairways for additional stability and security. Always keep handrails in good repair.
- Use a cane or walker around the house if needed – leaning on furniture can be dangerous and makes you more prone to falls.
- Install nightlights in the bedroom, bathroom and hallways to keep walkways well-lit.
- Secure all carpets with tape or a non-slip mat. Remove any obstacles from your house that you feel could pose a tripping hazard.
- Bonus tip: Many people fall when rushing to answer the phone. If you have mobility issues, make sure to have an answering machine, and always keep your cell on your person.
Senior safety devices
While senior home safety remains an important issue, technological advancements have made progress in reducing harm related to at-home accidents. Here are some of our favourite devices that can help mitigate hazards around the home.
- Fall detectors: Today, a broad range of fall detectors are available. As the name suggests, these are wearable devices that can detect when someone has had a life-threatening or injurious fall and needs assistance. Such devices are a good way to help ensure those with mobility issues aren’t left alone when an accident occurs.
- Motion sensing bulbs: Automatic lights are a great way to ensure you never have to fumble around looking for the light switch again (which can be hazardous). These bulbs are an easy way to install automatic lights without the need for extra lighting.
- Smart speakers: These clever devices are an easy way to improve seniors’ connection to technology by providing them with simple and useful voice control commands. These devices are excellent for features such as voice calls, news and simple inquiries such as “how is the weather today?” While they may be challenging to set up initially, after a little outside assistance, they only require voice commands to operate!
Every year, far too many senior injuries occur in potentially avoidable accidents around the home. However, ensuring you or a loved one is safe can sometimes be as simple as securing carpets or adding non-slip mats in the bathroom.
At Lynn Valley Care Centre, we take these issues for your loved ones very seriously and take precautions to protect our guests. If you have any concerns about your loved ones, please contact us today.