Everything You Need to Know About Doing a Home Safety Check for Your Senior Loved One
Home safety is a huge concern for seniors and their loved ones. After all, an accident at home can have a huge impact on a senior’s ability to continue to live independently. Thankfully, many accidents are quite preventable! A simple home safety check can help you to remove any potential issues in your loved one’s home before they have a chance to cause any damage.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few of the most common safety issues facing seniors in their homes.
Even a healthy, mobile senior can suffer serious injury as a result of a fall. So it’s important to be aware of possible tripping hazards and take steps to eliminate them before it’s too late. Here are a few of the more common risks that you may find in your loved one’s home.
Shoes, newspapers, laundry, and even pet toys can easily catch someone off guard and cause them to lose their balance. Clutter accumulates quickly, so it will need to be checked frequently, especially if your loved one isn’t exactly a neat freak! It’s important to keep objects off the floor, and especially off of the stairs.
Extension cords, lamp cords, and computer and television cables are easy to trip over. Coil cords neatly, or use tape or cord organizers to keep them next to the wall and out of walkways. If extension cords are creating a tripping hazard, you may want to consider having an electrician install additional outlets.
As we get older, it becomes more difficult to see clearly without adequate light. Seniors need to replace light bulbs as soon as they burn out. If there are stairs in the home, it’s advisable to have a light switch at both the top and the bottom so they’ll never have to climb up or down without the lights on. (An electrician can install a second switch if it’s needed.) Also make sure that the path from the bedroom to the bathroom is well lit. Installing night lights that turn on automatically can ensure that your loved one will never have to make that trip in the dark.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of flooring that can cause a fall is probably throw rugs. The safest option may be just to remove them. However, you can also choose to use double sided tape or a non-stick rug pad to keep them from sliding. In addition, make sure that they lay flat, without any wrinkles or edges sticking up.
Torn or loose carpeting, wobbly stair treads, or other uneven flooring can also be dangerous. Keep all flooring in your loved one’s home in good repair.
Out of Reach Items
Bending over or climbing up to reach something can throw off a senior’s sense of balance. Items that they use frequently should be kept in a spot where they can be conveniently retrieved. If it’s necessary to use a step stool to reach anything that’s stored up high, make sure that it’s steady and has a bar to hold on to. Seniors should never climb on chairs or other furniture to reach something.
Because of slippery surfaces, and the need to bend down frequently, many falls happen in the bathroom. You can make this room safer by installing non-slip mats or strips in the shower and putting grab bars next to the tub and toilet.
Prepare for an Emergency
Check Smoke Detectors
According to The US Fire Administration, smoke alarms should be tested once a month and replaced every ten years.
Keep Fire Extinguishers Handy
No kitchen should be without a fire extinguisher. Keep one where it’s easy to get to quickly, and make sure your loved one knows how to use it. Fire extinguishers also need to be checked or replaced periodically. Most of them should be recharged or replaced every six years, so make sure yours is up to date.
Update Emergency Phone Numbers
It’s a good idea to keep a list of emergency numbers in large print right next to the phone. Make sure that the numbers are current. If you’ve changed cell phones, or if Mom or Dad have a new doctor, update the list.
If your loved one has a cell phone or a phone that has speed dial, make sure to add any important numbers.
Many seniors, especially those who don’t use a wearable alarm device, also keep a phone close to the floor so they can reach it in case of a fall.
When to Do a Home Safety Check
Some of the preceding safety issues, such as securing power cords or removing throw rugs, are easy to take care of after an initial inspection. Others, like picking up clutter, checking for burnt out light bulbs, or testing smoke alarms, need to be done more frequently. If you are aware of the possible dangers in your loved one’s home, a quick check every once in a while when you are visiting may be all that’s needed. Make sure to correct any safety issues as soon as you notice them. You can do a more thorough inspection a few times each year.
Doing a home safety check is especially important if your loved one is returning home after an injury or an illness. At these times they are more likely to be a little unsteady, so it’s a good idea to complete a thorough safety check and eliminate any potential issues.
Visit the Davis Community’s Assisted Living and SNF in Wilmington NC
If you or loved one are no longer capable of living a safe, independent lifestyle, then call the Davis Community today at 910.686.7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington, NC. We offer a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. We are pleased to now be offering customized concierge home care services to independent seniors living in Landfall, Cambridge Village, Wrightsville Beach and Porter’s Neck, NC. Get to know the difference today — schedule a visit to the Davis Community!