Ask any senior where they prefer to live and you're guaranteed to get the same response, in the comfort of their own home. Living at home is not just more comfortable to many seniors, but in most cases makes better economical sense. The average yearly fee for assisted-living facilities can run the upwards of $35,000 or more per year depending on the facility and geographical area. For seniors that still have an option of living at home, either alone or with help, there are steps that should be taken in making their home the safest it can be.
As individuals become more fragile, living at home becomes more challenging and in many cases even risky. Health problems and the always present side effects to medications can and will increase the chances of an injury to a senior who is already having a difficult time in getting around. One of the most prevalent injuries we see on a regular basis and the leading cause of death in persons over the age of 65 are falls. Falls result in broken bones and hips, damage to soft tissue and cause internal bleeds that are often hard to detect in a timely manner.
There are simple ways to help ready a home to be occupied by a senior that will not only make you and them feel more comfortable but safer as well.
Make sure all fire escape routes are clear and easy to navigate.
Smoke alarms placed on every floor and outside every bedroom, there is no such thing as having too many of these life saving devices.
Install a carbon monoxide detector that has both lights and an audible alarm.
Place a portable fire extinguisher in the kitchen area.
Consider using monitors and intercoms.
Keep home well lit at all times especially areas such as stairways, bathrooms and kitchen (small plug in night lights are perfect for these purposes)
Use cordless phones that are easily carried and reduce fall risks.
Removing Hazards Around The Home
A senior who may experience problems with balance, walking or have poor eyesight will need to have their home examined identifying potential hazards. Make sure that all repairs and modifications that could have a negative impact are performed prior to the home being occupied such as:
Remove raised doorway thresholds.
Remove all throw rugs and clutter.
Repair loose carpet or raised areas of flooring.
Arrange all furniture and electrical cords out of walking paths.
Add multiple handrails (high and low) to all staircases.
Repair/ clean outside concrete or wooden surfaces that are slippery due to overexposure to water and the elements especially at main entrance points to the home.
Making Bathrooms and Showers Safer
Accidents in bathrooms such as slips and falls are very common. There are several ways in making these areas of the home safer for everyone:
Install grab rails in the shower and toilet area.
Place nonskid mats both inside and outside the shower or tub.
Use shower chairs and bath benches.
Get into a tub or shower by putting the weaker leg in first.
Get out of the tub or shower with your strong side first.
Making Daily Activities Simpler
Small and simple changes are all that are normally needed to help an older adult conserve energy and reduce the chances of an accident. Here are a few things that make daily activities easier:
If you have trouble seeing, purchase a phone with larger numbers that will make dialing simpler (television remotes can also be purchased with larger numbers and buttons also).
We strongly discourage any senior “climbing” for anything. However if this is necessary make sure a step stool equip with handrails is used.
Designate an area near the main entrance door to the home to place packages and groceries while you close the door and ready to put items away. A decorative bench or table works well for this purpose.
If you use a walker or a cane make sure the rubber tips are present and in good working order.
Many changes are easy to make and relatively inexpensive with some that can be done instantaneous such as removing throw rugs and rerouting electrical cords. The more complex home modifications may require the help of a professional for installation and some thought process as to what and where will work best.