What are the top safety issues for the elderly and how can you help prevent them? You are one of many senior caregivers want to know how to keep a senior safe at home.
When relaxing at home, it is easy to be lured into a false sense of security. Did you know , though, that falls are now the second leading cause of accidental injury and unintentional injury deaths? Before hunkering down and enjoying the day your way, it may be in your best interest to make the household accident-free to guarantee that the rest of the day is spent safely! Listed below are five safety issues for the elderly, with tips on how to decrease the risks of each accident.
- Slips and Falls: Slips and falls are the main cause of injury in a home, and the complications that can result are usually much worse than a scrape or a bruise. In 2013 alone, the direct medical costs for falls came to $34 billion dollars! With careful planning and periodic home checkups, though, injuries can easily be avoided.
- Keep cords away from walkways
- Make sure all rugs, runners, and mats are slip resistant
- Provide adequate lighting in all areas of the house
- Keep exits and passageways free of miscellaneous debris
- Equip bathtubs and showers with non-slip surfaces, such as textured strips or mats
- Install one or two grab bars in the shower
- Stairs should have a handrail, decent lighting, and light switches at both ends. If the stairs need to be renovated, touch up the edges, carpet, and make sure the wood is even
- Remove all objects from stairways
- Keep a stable step-stool nearby
- Use a suitable visual aid if needed to prevent trips
- Check for dry floors, and immediately clean up spills
- Fires: Fires are one the primary safety issues for the elderly. They may be deadly, but thankfully there are lots of ways to prevent, put out, and escape from their wrath. Burns are a high threat to the senior community, and they should be prevented at all costs.
- Make sure the smoke-detectors work, and that there is one on each floor of the building
- Store paint, gasoline, and any other item that gives off a fume away from ignition sources
- Keep lids tightly closed on volatile substances
- Check the fuse box/circuit breaker. It is imperative that the box is the correct size. If you are unsure of whether the fit is perfect, don't hesitate to ask for assistance. An incorrect fuse box size will lead to an overloaded outlet or house wiring system, and a potential fire
- Keep ashtrays and other smoking materials away from the bedroom. Smoking in the bedroom is dangerous and not worth the risk
- If using a heating device (such as an electric blanket or heater), make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions to prevent mishaps
- Never sleep with a heating pad while it is turned on. Even at low settings, a heating pad can cause serious burns
- Always un-plug an electrical appliance when it is not in use
- Avoid resting furniture on top of cords. If a cord becomes damaged, it will become a fire and shock hazard
- Keep cords in good condition
- Do not overload cords.
- Make sure ventilation systems are up to date and in proper condition. Beware of improper venting, as it is the most frequent cause of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Roll up sleeves while cooking, and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry near any form of flame. If you wear your hair long, tie it back
- Keep all non-cooking items (curtains, hand towels, pot holders, etc.) away from the fire range area
- If you have wood-burning heat equipment, make sure it is installed properly
- Electric Shock: A very real safety issue for the elderly that we don't often give much thought to is electric shock. There aren't many things more surprising than an accidental shock! New technological devices are constantly being integrated into the average American home, as well as innovative sources of unwanted electrical contact. Listed below are some easy ways to take caution against the Age of Technology.
- Keep cords intact and in proper working condition. Frayed and damaged cords may cause electric shock or fire
- To ensure that no wiring is exposed, make sure all outlets and switches have cover plates
- Turn all small electrical appliances off when they are not in use
- Make sure all power tools equipped with a three-prong plug are double-insulated
- Medicine and accidental poisoning: Mixing up prescription medicines can be deadly.
- Make sure all medicines are stored in their original containers
- Outdated medications should be disposed of
- Store medicines beyond the reach of children
- Do not buy over-the-counter pills. If unwell, ask your doctor
- Keep a written calendar of what medications should be taken when and check them off as you do so
- Improper Lighting: A very simple-to-fix safety issue for the elderly is improper lighting. Fixing lighting can help in many ways - falling, taking the wrong medications, even electric shock. A well-lit house will prevent stumbles, showcase loose wire, prevent cuts and burns, and assist in label and calendar reading. Here are some of the best ways to ensure proper lighting.
- Make sure there is a source of light at both ends of all staircases
- Never walk in the dark. If an area is dark, provide lighting.
- There should be lamps and/or light switches within reach of the bed
- Night lights can be installed almost anywhere, and are extremely helpful around bathrooms, hallways, and other frequented evening areas
- Provide adequate lighting over the stove and food preparation counters
You can get a better understanding safety issues for the elderly by observing the daily routines of your loved one. Where do they walk, what tasks do they frequently try to accomplish on their own, do they ask for assistance, are they careful to sit when putting on clothes? Everyone is different and makes choices as to what risks they want to take. Unfortunately, danger will make itself known in even the safest of households.
It is always smart to have an emergency exit plan laid out! To get started, all you need to do is
(1) Choose a meeting place outside of your household
(2) Keep all passageways clear
(3) Practice occasionally!
Another helpful tip is to keep accessible telephones nearby beds and in the living rooms, with a list of emergency contact numbers attached.
Want to read More from SeniorsMatter.com on Senior Safety?
Consider all aspects of safety issues for the elderly when undertaking the care of a senior. Do they best you can knowing that you will never accomplish an accident free household. Your pro-active steps now can help to minimize the most common safety issues for the elderly.
"Falls." WHO. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.
"Home Accident Prevention for Elderly." Home Accident Prevention for Elderly. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.
"Home Safety for the Elderly." - InterNACHI. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.
"Older Adult Falls: Get the Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01 July 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.