Home is our safety net, the place we feel most comfortable and secure. But as you age and your health evolves, is it as accommodating of your needs as it could be? Are you aware of some of the common safety issues there and how to make your home more accessible? We can help with these tips, and what may be an easier solution; the senior living safety features communities like ours readily provide for your peace of mind.
Hidden Dangers for Seniors at Home
Falls are one of the top health risks for seniors. In fact, nearly a third of U.S. seniors fall each year, and about half of all falls that require hospitalization take place at home according to the CDC. Behind falls, fires are the second leading cause of injury at home according to the Home Safety Council (HSC).
What’s more, per the Department of Health and Human Services, adverse drug events also account for approximately 280,000 hospitalizations annually. With the complexities of managing multiple prescription medications each day, as many seniors do, it’s easy to see how mistakes can be made.
The reasons that injuries from falls, fires, and medication errors are much more common among those 65 and older may include weaker muscles, more brittle bones, slower reaction times, impaired vision and balance, or perhaps even diminished cognitive abilities.
Tips to Improve Home Safety for Seniors
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce your risk and improve accessibility at home.
● Reducing the risk of falls: Clear walking paths, add handrails to both sides of the stairs, make sure to have adequate lighting, remove throw rugs, install grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom, and avoid standing on step stools or ladders (get a reach stick instead). Also, make sure you have the appropriate mobility devices to help you move around the home safely.
● Practice fire safety: Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking and avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes. Keep flammable items (dishtowels, paper/plastic bags, curtains) at least three feet from your cooktop, and grills 10 feet away from the house, shrubs, or bushes. Avoid space heaters, if possible, otherwise, keep them at least three feet from anything flammable and always turn them off when leaving the room. Also, inspect your furnace and/or fireplace yearly, check smoke/carbon monoxide detectors semi-annually, and have easily accessible fire extinguishers. Lastly, never leave a room with a candle burning, and don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords.
● Reducing the risk of medication errors: When managing multiple prescriptions each day, extra vigilance is essential to avoid errors. Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly in addition to reading the package insert. Also, make sure to take medications for the full duration of the prescription (even if you feel better), refill prescriptions early to avoid running out, and use pill organizers or apps to keep track of your medications and dosage times.
● Be prepared for emergencies: In addition to 911, have poison control as well as your neighbors’ numbers handy and identify at least two ways to exit your home in case of emergency. Also, consider getting a generator in case of a power outage to keep oxygen and dialysis machines functioning. What’s more, we believe a personal emergency response system (a wearable call button that contacts first responders and/or a friend or family member in an emergency) is a must.
Depending on your needs, modifications may be needed to make your home more accessible. The most common are installing wheelchair ramps and widening doorways. However, this is often not only a hassle to do, but it can also be expensive. For example, installing ramps can cost between $1,000 to as much as $15,000, and widening a doorway can range between $500 and $1,000 each if there are no structural issues according to Angie’s List.
Senior Living Safety Features
While these tips can certainly improve safety and give you peace of mind at home, it can be a lot to manage. On the other hand, we focus on senior living safety which means communities like ours are designed specifically for accessibility and include fire safety features as well as emergency response systems, grab bars, ramps, and generators. What’s more, team members are onsite 24/7, our specialized care programs include medication management and we offer award-winning therapy services. You’ll also have peace of mind in the fact that we offer multiple levels of care on the same campus for added senior living safety and comfort.
For more information about senior living and to schedule a visit, contact Friendship today.