Whether you’re the carer or guardian of an elderly person, or you have a senior close to you who is living alone, taking safety precautions to make their home is safe should be the highest priority. Seniors are more susceptible to accidents and other dangerous situations which is why it would be worthwhile to equip them with the knowledge and tools to avoid such incidents.
Keep reading to find out all our top tips to make a home safer for elderly members.
Remove fall and burn hazards around the home
There are various things around the home that can increase the risk of accidents when an elderly person is living there. You may want to:
• Provide the senior with a walker or cane to get around the house
• Reduce the number of uneven surfaces in the home, and access to stairs
• Have a set thermostat temperature on the water heater to reduce the likelihood of scalding water
• Remove ladders and other potential objects that aren’t stable and could cause falls
• Add ramps for access to elevated areas and mats on slippery surfaces
• Ensure that any rugs and mats will not move when you walk on them, otherwise, they should be taped down
• Keep the home well-lit, use night lights in hallways, corridors, or other dark areas
• Keep floors clear of unnecessary objects that someone could potentially trip on
• Install railing in the bathroom, stairways, and other areas where falls can occur
• Invest in a bathing chair
• Ensure there are a sufficient number of smoke detectors and that their batteries are frequently changed
• Invest in step stools that are no taller than one or two steps in height
• Replace ‘twist and turn’ kitchen or bathroom faucets with lever handle faucets
Prevent the risk of fire and other dangers
In case of a fire, there are many safety measures you can take to prevent or help an elderly person in their home.
You may want to consider:
• Removing candles, and open fire sources such as fireplaces
• Keeping a fire extinguisher around if your senior knows how to use it (but we do recommend they flee if there is a fire and call emergency services to handle the situation instead)
It’s especially important to be aware of the dangers of poisoning in an elderly person’s home. This can happen with anything from regular household products to cleaning solutions, or medications, which is why you should:
• Keep food and drinks completely separate from cleaning agents or other poisonous products
• Ensure medication is clearly labelled, and portioned in a pill dispenser if possible
• Avoid mixing cleaning solutions together as it can cause deadly gases
• Keep everything in their original containers – this applies to food, drinks, cleaning products, and medications
• Ensure expired foods are frequently thrown out before they pose any health risks
Protect from crime and abuse
Senior citizens are more susceptible targets when it comes to crime. This is why you should:
• Install either a security door, peephole, or doorbell camera so strangers don’t get instant access to the home when uninvited
• Place a note on the door to remind them to ask who’s there, or not to open the door for strangers or unexpected guests
• Ensure other entryways such as windows and other doors are always locked and cannot be easily accessed from outside
• Add more security to the house with gates and/or fences
Have emergency contact information readily available
For seniors, having someone they can always rely on is always recommended.
• Write down emergency contacts and stick it on the fridge, or somewhere they can easily refer to (emergency services such as for the police, fire brigade, and ambulance, as well as close contacts like a carer or family members)
• Put emergency numbers on speed-dial if the elderly person uses a mobile phone
Teach seniors about their home safety
Educating seniors about safety at home is one of the first things you should do if it is possible, so they can maintain independence when you’re not around. Make sure that you give them all these tips, and especially inform them when making changes to the home so they understand it’s for their safety and benefit. When it comes to changing light bulbs, cleaning, and other such repairs, get your senior to call you instead of doing it themselves. Alert them to the risks of phone scams, thieves, and intruders so they can avoid those dangers. In the case of a fire or some other dangerous emergency, we recommend seniors to immediately leave the house and call emergency services.
While some of these safety tips may require you to implement yourself, it will make the home a lot safer and more comfortable for your senior relative or friend.