Seniors Safety Inside the Home
October 16 2020
Seniors Safety Inside the Home
Taking care of the elderly at home is reassuring for their loved-ones as they get to see what their seniors are up to. This article serves as a guide to seniors safety and discusses home safety for seniors, the personal safety tips seniors should know, and the home hazards for elderly people that everyone should be aware of.
Home safety for elderly people starts with lighting. It should be easy for everyone to roam around and see things clearly inside the house, especially for seniors who should be able to quickly spot indoor hazards.
Maximize Natural Lighting
You can start by checking if spaces around the house are illuminated well enough both day and night. Consider replacing window drapes with lighter ones to allow daylight to easily pass through the house and illuminate most of the indoor spaces by morning and afternoon. This can also help save electricity if fewer artificial lights are used by day.
Improve Artificial Lighting
You should also check if all artificial lights inside the house can illuminate every space in the house by night. Check for bulbs that are too dim or too old and replace them with new ones. Lights at home should have a long life and should be bright enough for older adults to walk comfortably around the house.
Lighting and Controls
Timer controls can be useful if there are spaces that should be illuminated automatically at certain times, and if you want to keep seniors from forgetting to turn the lights on or off. If seniors inside the house may sometimes find the lights too dim or too bright, you can also add dimmer controls to allow them to adjust the lights on their preference.
You might also consider adding motion-activated lights at home. You can easily find lamps with built-in motion sensors but look for the ones that are neither too bright nor too dim, especially if you are going to add one in the bedroom. You should also check if the motion-activated lights you will find are sensitive enough to quickly respond to movement.
Lighting Is a Long-Term Investment
While indoor lighting adjustments may be a bit costly, they are long-term investments for your pocket and the planet. The Department of Energy also recommends adding lighting controls to substantially reduce electricity usage, and motion-activated lighting can help reduce daily carbon emissions and energy consumption.
Falling is the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, and several cases of traumatic brain injury occur among adults older than 85 years.
A 1993 study shows 90% of cases of hip fractures are attributed to falling, and elderly people are at high risk, especially those who already experience bone loss and osteoporosis due to aging.
Another 2018 study published in the Journal of Frailty, Sarcopenia, and Falls also substantiates this. The study shows the likelihood of fall injuries happening among adults who had a history of neurological conditions and how fall-related fractures occur even among adults who have normal bone mineral density scores.
It is not only a concern for senior citizens. A 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows the huge overall financial cost of both fatal and nonfatal fall injuries among adults aged 65 and above within the United States in 2015 alone.
These fatalities can be prevented through care and awareness by having everyone familiar with senior citizens’ safety tips and making changes in the house to make it more friendly for the elderly.
A significant fraction of fall accidents are related to stair negotiation. Thus, staircases should be dealt with to prevent fall accidents from happening, and they may require design improvements.
Stairsteps must provide enough space for the foot to land during ascent and descent, and their height must not be too high to prevent tripping. The design and dimensions of the steps must also be consistent.
Reduced illumination can also increase the chances of falls in staircases, so there should be enough lighting on staircases to make it easy for everyone to distinguish the steps, especially for visually impaired people. Using a contrasting color on edges of stair steps can also improve their visibility.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides preventive strategies and specifications on how stairs can be designed and modified to make them easy to use for senior citizens.
Invest in a Stairlift
If budget is not a problem, a stairlift is a very good addition to consider. They make it very easy for seniors to use the stairs, and it reduces the chance of injuries from happening. A stairlift should be able to sustain and carry enough weight, and its safety mechanisms will also make sure it will work in case of a power outage.
Staircases must be in companion with handrails that are sturdy enough and easy to grip. A 2016 study observed that a fraction of cases of craniofacial trauma among the elderly happened in the bathroom. In this case, bathrooms should also be coupled with strong handrails to prevent these accidents.
Use Correction Lenses to Improve Locomotion
Risks can also be further reduced by having seniors checked by optometrists and have their correction lenses adjusted for at least once a year. Fine-tuned correction lenses can allow them to easily recognize distance, and significantly improve their balance, stability, and stair locomotion.
All these changes should be in companion with non-slip footwear. Wires should be kept away from the floor, and the house must be constantly checked for clutter and slippery elements. There may be clutter from time to time in the house, and everyone living under the roof should be reminded of safety tips for the elderly at home.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), adults who are 85 years and older have the highest risk of being caught on fire with a death rate of 43 per million population.
Fires are preventable, but dealing with fire hazards can be quite tricky and requires constant vigilance. There are lots of things you can do to prevent a fire, including but not limited to:
- Relocating Heaters: If there are heaters in the house, consider relocating them to spaces with no flammable materials around.
- Installing Detectors: Have fully-operational carbon monoxide and smoke sensors in the house.
- Looking for Electrical Problems: Electrical problems must be quickly dealt with, whether it is a damaged wire or a dangerous setup.
- Ready-to-use Extinguishers: Have accessible fire extinguishers in the house and check from time to time if they are still pressurized.
- Respirator Masks: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) labels smoke inhalation as the primary leading cause of death in fires. Make sure adults and everyone in the house have access to respirator masks.
- Fire Drills: provide safety teaching for elderly people and everyone in the house. Prepare them on how to escape in case of fire, and how to prevent one from happening through safety precautions at home.
Fire hazards, electrical hazards, and slippery elements. No matter how organized or decorative, kitchens can hold catastrophes that are simply waiting to happen. Consider doing the following in the kitchen:
Place elevated objects in lower areas. If there are elevated cabinets in the kitchen, it is much better to just rather leave them empty or store very light objects instead.
- Check the refrigerator for expired foods.
- Place appliances and wires farther away from sources of water.
- Provide elderly safety tips to constantly remind seniors of safety practices in the kitchen.
Nowadays, devices such as smartphones are not well-designed for older adults. Some adults are more familiar with the former versions of the technology, which have less complicated interfaces.
Older adults should not be deprived of their right to communicate with their loved ones or call for help. It is important to teach them how to use their devices and set them up to be easier to use on their end.
Forgetfulness is a consequence of aging. Older adults may not be able to recall information or numbers accurately. Make sure they have notes around to constantly remind them of certain things, including contact numbers and emergency hotline numbers. It is also essential to provide useful reminders and a home safety checklist elderly people should be aware of.
Sometimes, rethinking senior safety may not start with guiding seniors or making changes at home. Some factors are too powerful for us to control or manage, including crime rate and environmental quality. In this case, whether it is due to a dangerous neighborhood or toxic conditions, seniors have to be relocated to a safer area.
Distancing from Highly Industrialized Areas
Older adults are more vulnerable to lung-related diseases at their age. It is advisable to relocate seniors away from heavily industrialized areas such as factories that emit a lot of smoke and facilities that work on dangerous chemicals, raw materials, and hazardous waste.
In these areas, dangerous particulate matter may be abundant, including PM2.5 particles which are fine enough to reach the lungs, and they can be easily inhaled by anyone.
In places where wildfires are frequent such as California, seniors must be relocated away from areas where they can likely happen. Wildfires can weaken the quality of air within a wide range, and their effects can last for a long time. Seniors should have access to respirators in case they occur.
Check for Actual Air Quality Data
If you want to know the specific qualities of air in your area, you can try to check if administrative agencies in your country have publicly-available air quality data.
AirNow, which is a joint project by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Forest Service, provides an interactive map that allows you to look at data coming from air quality sensors everywhere in the country.
The EPA also has a guide on how to stay protected from exposure to wildfire smoke.
Health Care Services
House renovations and safety awareness are not complete solutions to ensure safety for seniors living at home. From time to time, we still have to check on our loved ones to make sure they are safe. Most of us may not even be able to do it constantly due to their busy schedules, location, or nature of work.
Looking for housekeepers and companions for seniors can be helpful to make sure they are happy and safe. However, serious care would usually require the assistance of a health care provider.
Dealing with indoor hazards constantly can be inefficient and will not always suffice. The CDC has defined health-related risk factors that contribute to injuries related to diminishing mobility, and they also highlight the importance of health care providers as they know how to deal with them specifically.
Having health care providers at home ensures that the complex things are being dealt with, and the most appropriate care is being given to seniors, and you can depend on and find the best ones at All American Home Care.
At All American Home Care, we provide around-the-clock, dependable, and flexible health care services for seniors at home. Unlike any other health care service you can find, we make sure health care for seniors is easily accessible to anyone in need, and the happiness and quality of our patients’ lives are our top priority.