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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an American over the age of 65 is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from complications due to a fall. Many of these accidents happen where we ought to feel the safest – our homes.
True, the loss of mobility and deterioration of movement coordination occur naturally as we age, but our homes don’t have to become minefields. If you live with your parents or older relatives, here are some tips that will help you upgrade your home’s safety, room-by-room.
If there’s one room in the house that’s covered with tons of traps and slipping hazards, that is the bathroom. It’s where most accidents happen, and seniors are not the only ones at risk. So, here’s what you can do to make the room as safe as possible:
- Anti-slip bath mats can prevent common bathroom injuries such as head trauma and broken hips.
- The medicine cabinet should be accessible for seniors (and not for kids) and it should include a day-of-the-week pill container.
- Walk-in-showers are far safer than bathtubs. Nevertheless, you should also install grab bars and a shower bench.
- The toilet seat should be higher.
This is the room where the majority of people spend most of their time. While it’s not nearly as dangerous as the bathroom, it still has its risks. Here are a few pointers for making it a safer space:
- Remove the carpets altogether. If this is not an option, you can secure them to avoid the risk of tripping and falling.
- All the shelves should also be secured.
- Safe-proof sharp edges or if possible, replace sharp-edged furniture with something that has more rounded shapes.
- Get useful tech aids for seniors, such as medical alert systems (home-based or wearable), voice-assisted platforms, and electronic pillboxes to ensure maximum safety in the living room and all around the house.
Similarly to the bathroom, the kitchen can be a slippery and hazardous space. Anti-slip mats or resistant slips can solve this problem, and here are some other precautions you can take:
- Lower the kitchen cabinetry so that it’s within the seniors’ reach. Tip-toeing and stretching too far to reach for something could result in falls and injuries. If the project is too demanding, get a senior-specific step stool.
- Pull-down shelves are much easier to access, so consider this upgrade as well.
- Install a small, easy-to-grab fire extinguisher.
- Install a smoke detector.
- The kitchen isle, faucet, and everything in the room should be easy to grab and use.
Since people spend one-third of their life in the bedroom, this is an important space to secure. Here’s what you can do:
- Seniors can fall while getting in and out of the bed. To prevent that and add more stability, make sure to install bed rails.
- A fire escape ladder or permanent fire escape staircase should be near the bedroom, in case of fires during the night.
- The nightstand needs to be equipped with everything they might need when they wake up in the middle of the night or before they go to bed.
The hallway connects every room in the house, so it needs to be very safe for seniors. Some hallway projects to consider include:
- Install rails in the hallways to prevent potential accidents, such as broken bones or worse.
- If you want a rug in the hallway, make it an anti-slip.
- Place a bench near the entryway to make it easier for seniors to put on their shoes.
The inside of your home could be as safe as the Pentagon, but as soon as the door is open, all hell can break loose. So, let’s finish this senior-proofing project by securing this part as well:
- Many burglars consider seniors to be “easy prey,” particularly if they are living alone. Prevent a probable home invasion by installing home security cameras at every access point.
- If the senior uses a wheelchair, you should install a wheelchair ramp for added accessibility.
- Smart locks could be a good thing because you can open the door via an app in case you need to get inside the house if the senior is injured.
These projects will help make your senior family members feel like their home is once again safe for them, regardless of whether they are living alone or not. On top of that, keep in mind that the most important thing you can give your parents or senior relatives is support.
Article submitted by Hannah Thomas