While retirement communities and assisted living facilities are more well appointed than ever, many seniors still choose live independently in their own homes. But advanced age means increased safety risks, so it’s important to be aware of potential dangers and take the necessary precautions. If you plan to remain at home during your advanced years, here’s what you need to know to stay safe:
“Fall-proof” the home
Even if you have little to no difficulty with walking or balance, it’s necessary to remove fall hazards around the house:
1. Remove clutter, such as shoes and stray electrical cords, from hallways, stairs ,and paths.
2. Make sure all walkways are well lit.
3. Tape area rugs to the floor so they don’t shift.
4. Install non-slip floor mats and safety bars in the shower.
5. Install tub chairs and raised toilet seats if balance and mobility are an issue.
Prevent against fire and burns
Smoke alarms are just the beginning of home fire protection. In addition to testing alarms regularly and replacing the batteries twice a year, also be sure to:
6. Place space heaters at least 3 feet away from curtains, bedding, or anything flammable.
7. Turn off space heaters when you leave the room.
8. Replace appliances with frayed or damaged cords.
9. Know at least two ways to escape your home in the event of a fire.
10. Refrain from smoking in bed or leaving candles burning.
11. Avoid wearing loose clothes or long sleeves when cooking.
12. Set the water heater thermostat to a maximum of 120° F to prevent scalding.
Prevent against poisoning
Accidental poisoning is one of the most common causes of death and injury among seniors, so take these precautions to stay safe:
13. Install carbon monoxide detectors near all bedrooms, and as with smoke detectors, test and replace batteries every six months.
14. Never try to heat the house with the stove, oven, or grill, all of which emanate deadly carbon monoxide that cannot be seen or smelled.
15. Keep medications in their original containers and ask for large-print labels if needed.
16. Properly dispose of all old or unused medication.
17. Store cleaning products far away from food and make sure they’re labeled clearly.
18. Never mix bleach and ammonia together, or any other cleaning liquids—the combination can create deadly gases.
Protect against crime and abuse
In the Information Age, seniors are more vulnerable than ever to financial abuse, whether online, over the phone, or when answering the front door. Here’s how you can lower the risk of financial crime:
19. Never give out personal or financial information over the phone or Internet unless you are the one initiating contact, and only with reputable companies such as the bank or pharmacy.
20. Always ask for written information about offers, prizes, or charities, and consult family or friends before accepting any offers or signing contracts. If you feel pressured, that’s a good indication that the offer in question is a scam.
21. Never let a salesperson or other stranger into your home.
Keep emergency numbers handy
22. A list of emergency numbers should be handy near each phone in the house, preferably in large, easy-to-read print. Aside from 911, include numbers for poison control (1-800-222-1222) and your primary doctor’s office.
23. Other numbers to have handy: a family member or friend designated as an emergency contact, and a trusted neighbor in case family or friends can’t be reached.
24. It’s also a good idea to schedule regular check-ins with your friend, family member, or neighbor.
25. You can also install a lock box on the front door that will allow trusted visitors and emergency personnel to access your home if needed.
Do you or does a loved one need additional care? We can help.
Seniors choose to live independently might need more help than they are willing to admit, and family members are often unable to provide adequate care. At Bella Vista Health Center, compassionate caregiving is our top priority, and we offer both top-notch medical care and stimulating socialization to meet the needs of all our patients and residents. So if you or a loved one is ready to transition to assisted living, give us a call at (619) 399-7920 to schedule a tour of our 5-star skilled nursing facility.