As the desire for seniors to age in place increases, it is important to learn and understand the ways that can keep them safe and healthy at home. It may seem fundamental, especially if they have been living in their own home for many years. However, there are certain concerns that should be discussed and considered in order to maintain a safe home environment.
Housekeeping is of the utmost importance. Maintaining a clean, clutter-free environment is an essential part of home care. Individuals feel better physically and mentally if they are being cared for in a clean setting. This also can prevent allergies due to dust and mold as well as infection from bacteria. The individual's bed linens should be changed at a minimum of once per week and kitchen and bathrooms should be cleaned on a regular schedule as well.
For an older person, even a minor fall can cause serious injury. Keeping throw rugs out of the daily path is a must. Throw rugs can be slippery as well as have a lip or frayed edge that could cause a fall. Falls are the number one cause of injury in the senior population. If a fall should occur the injuries could include broken bones, head injury or even death. They may look attractive in the home but throw rugs are a fall hazard.
Electrical wires connected to electronics in the home are another source of concern. Keep these cords bound together and tucked away so that they do not create a fall risk. Arrange the furniture so that the person has a clear, unobstructed path from one place to another and remove furniture that is not being used. Less is definitely more in this area.
Another item to consider are the smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be installed outside of each bedroom and the kitchen. Check the batteries frequently and replace them every six months whether they need it or not. In most communities the local fire department will be happy to come in and replace or install a smoke alarm for an elderly resident. Keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen is a wise decision. Educate your loved one on how to use and maintain it.
In the bathroom, place a non-slip rubber mat or adhesive strips on the floor of the bathtub or shower. Handrails should be installed around the bathing area as well as grab bars on the walls around the toilet. You may also consider removing the lock on the bathroom door to prevent a loved one from accidentally locking the door.
A preventative measure that could definitely have a positive effect on an aging loved one is the personal emergency response system. Personal emergency response systems provide an easy way for an older person to call for help in an emergency. When the system is activated, the signal goes to a monitoring center where a specific set of actions is set in motion. If the situation is serious the emergency medical services, the fire department or police will be dispatched to the individual's home. Ask your primary care physician about these systems, as it could be a great benefit to your loved one.
At the end of the day seniors want to remain independent for as long as possible. Keeping these precautions in mind will significantly increase safety in the home environment and ensure a happy, healthy individual.