I’ve covered a host of topics touching on issues of independence, both physical and mental, sharing ideas how seniors can retain as much independence as possible. Last week I shared ideas on how seniors can “travel locally”, visiting different venues in and near their city. Today, though, I am tackling something of much greater concern, the issue of home safety.
When I think of home safety, I, like I’m sure most of you, immediately think of fall prevention. That’s not a bad place to start. According to Age Safe America, “falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults, accounting for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions.” Age Safe America goes on to state that, ”40% of those admitted will never return to independent living and 25% will die within one year.”
Fall prevention is not the only home safety issue, there are other things seniors and others need to be aware of. Below is a list of things in the home that should be checked and rechecked on a regular basis. I do not pretend this is an all-inclusive list. Rather I hope it will stir some discussion and perhaps prompt you to look around your house or the home of an elderly friend or relative.
- Oxygen Line or Power Chords – If on oxygen, be sure the line is not in danger of being tripped over. Same goes for power chords. A vast majority of accidents in the home are caused by tripping. Move these chords and lines out of the middle of the floor where they are most likely to be tripped over.
- Furniture – Many Seniors have trouble getting around areas where furniture is grouped tightly together. Better to have some space between different items so one’s progress is not impeded.
- Light Bulbs – Make sure all light bulbs are in good working order, especially in hallways. Always keep several spares somewhere that is easily accessible.
- Hand Rails – I am a big believer in handrails, particularly any place you have to go up or down just a few steps. Be sure it is well anchored.
- Food in Fridge – Routinely check for outdated food and items that may have been left open. Any food that has become dated or gone bad needs to be thrown out. Moldy bread is an easy example.
- Medicine Cabinets – Same deal. Check for outdated medications or empty vials. Discard those that are outdated.
- Area Rugs or Throw Rugs – Hall rugs should have some sort of no skid backing and area rugs should be placed so they cannot be tripped over.
- Smoke Detectors – Make sure batteries are in working order and that the detector is working.
This is probably a good jumping off place for now. This list is not exhaustive. My mission today was simply to bring about an awareness of items in the home that could become hazardous to those we love and care about. Add, subtract, or adapt as your situation dictates. I appreciate all discussion and look forward to your comments.