Home Safety Ideas for Senior Adults
A Few Changes will Create a Safer Home for Seniors
Seniors and their families can make a number of changes around the home to make it safer. As we get older, or for those of caring for aging parents, preventing accidents becomes even more important. While it's natural to think about child-proofing for little ones, we don't always pay attention to the things that can make our lives safer as adults of any age.
Many of these tips are easy to implement, are budget-friendly, and will make a difference when it comes to peace of mind. Other enhancements may require the expertise of an experienced do-it-yourselfer or a professional. They're well worth the effort when it comes to safety!
Stay Safe in the Kitchen
Add Lazy Susans in cabinets and in the pantry. They’re available in sizes to hold jars, spices, and even mugs. If the bottom slides around, add foam rubber feet or a layer of non-skid matting.
Avoid placing microwave ovens too low or too high. Those that double as vent-hoods are definitely a no-no. Countertop models are recommended as it’s too awkward to remove hot foods at any other angle. There’s also a fire hazard if a loose sleeve comes too close to flames.
Electric or gas stoves should be chosen with controls at the front. Reaching across steaming pots or pans of hot oil to access controls on a back panel is a potential burn hazard.
Post emergency information in a prominent spot with a centrally located message center or bulletin board - preferably with a magnetized surface. The kitchen is one spot emergency personnel check. Post important contact numbers near every phone (landline).
Remove throw rugs from kitchen areas. These are prime reasons for slippage and for tripping.
Products to Enhance Kitchen Safety
Our featured products for the kitchen will make an older adult's life easier.
Make the Bathroom Safer
In the shower, suction cup holders will keep shampoo and soap at reachable levels. These wire-frame chromed wall-mounts will attach to most surfaces, although they may require re-positioning on occasion to avoid loosening and falling.
Install grab bars, but avoid the suction cup models. ADA-approved bars support heavier weights and also feature textured surfaces. They can be installed horizontally or at an angle to studs.
Grab bars can also mount to the sides of tubs and are less expensive solutions. Several different styles are available and they can be repositioned for easiest use.
The inside of a tub or shower enclosure is also fraught with danger. Surfaces with no-skid texturing may become slippery when soap and shampoo is applied. Decals are high-maintenance, however, as they become dirty or begin to lift. Roll-on tub coatings are longer lasting and won’t become slick. Rubber bath mats are always an option.
Stone floors in the bath can get slick in a hurry, either from splashed water or from humidity buildup. Although they’re a tripping hazard, no-slip rugs should be added just outside tubs and showers, in front of toilets, and in front of sinks or cabinets.
Does the shower door open inward? It may be time to make a change to one that opens out. If someone is inside, it might be difficult for a caretaker or rescue personnel to open the door. This may be a DIY job or might require the services of a professional.
Seating is a convenience for the elderly and for those who are incapacitated. These are lightweight, but heavy-duty, and can make cleaning up so much easier. Look for models with draining holes across the surface and leg with rubberized no-slip tips.
A brighter bathroom is another advantage for seniors. It may require a new paint job with white paint and the addition of new fixtures, but when eyesight starts to fade, it’s best to eliminate darker décor.
Make the Shower and Tub Area Safer
Showers and tubs are prime spots for accidents. A few simple enhancements, which I've discussed above, can reduce the risks of injury.
General Safety Tips Inside the Home
Add switches to table or floor lamps that activate when the room becomes too dim, rather than at dawn or dusk. This eliminates the need to fumble around turning on lights, even during the day when skies darken.
Nightlights can also be lifesavers. Plug them in along hallways, in bedrooms, and in the bathroom for those late night forays. Add a nightlight in the kitchen as well. They’re inexpensive and it won’t matter if they stay on all day long, either. Some models feature sensors that are motion activated.
Small appliances - invest in models with automatic shutoff. These would include coffeepots, irons, and curling irons.
If there’s a pet in the home, get in the habit of putting away toys before going to bed. Make sure they’re secured in case your pet decides to roam during the night. This eliminates the risks of tripping over errant balls or other favorite toys.
Remove knobs on cabinets in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas and replace them with handles. Knobs can catch on electrical cords, sleeves and open edging on jackets.
Be sure a fire extinguisher is located in various areas throughout the home. Go over instructions on a regular basis.
Add Sensor-Activated Nightlights Throughout the Home
Help Seniors Stay Safe in the Kitchen
An expert provides tips on kitchen safety for the elderly
Last Thoughts on Home Safety for Seniors
Encourage seniors to wear shirts or slacks with larger pockets. It’s always advisable to have a cell phone handy, whether they’re indoors or outside.
Shoes with rubber soles can also prevent accidents. On wet surfaces or tile and wood floors, they’ll provide better footing.
Photos courtesy Morgue File unless otherwise noted
Your Home - Safe Home (with checklists)
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