It’s very normal for us to be concerned with our safety as we age. It’s natural that as we grow older, we take more risks with everyday tasks. Here are some suggestions that you may have already thought of; if not, let’s think about ways to make our lives safer. Take a mental picture of your home, room by room. Are there some changes we should consider making? Things in my home that are hazards are loose rugs in my hallway. If I continue to keep them, I should use double-sided tape or non-slip padding on the underside, especially at corners and center, to prevent them from slipping. We know that slips, trips, and falls, are serious hazards for workers, as well as seniors.
Continuing through your home: how about the living room/den? Are they cluttered? You should never leave anything on the floor where someone could trip. Furniture should be arranged to provide clear, easy pathways. Power and extension cords should be taped along the baseboards of walls to keep them out of the way. If there are steps in the home, have a ramp or handrail installed. Having a soft nightlight in each room would help us find our way in the dark.
Going into the kitchen, see if the items you use the most are stored on easy-to-reach shelves, between waist and eye level. If the step stool is old (please, never use a chair), get a stepladder with handles for extra support. Keep flammables, like cup towels away from the stove. Don’t wear loose clothing around the stove while you are cooking. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, purchase one, and have the store representative show you how to properly use it.
Bedroom: never tuck in an electric blanket if you use them. This can cause overheating and result in a fire. Heating pads should not be used in bed; if someone falls asleep with it on, burns can result, even at low temperatures. Have a light near the bed within easy reach. Install a nightlight between the bed and bathroom to avoid a fall in the dark.
Accidental falls in the bathroom are a common cause of broken hips; apply self-adhesive non-slip strips to the bottom of the tub or shower. Have a grab bar inside the shower; installing another one beside the toilet is advisable. Accessible toilets, 3 to 5” higher than a standard seat, make it safer and more convenient. It would be wise to have locks that can open doors from both sides.
Stairway/Porch Steps: one of the most common sites of falls is the stairway, or on the porch. Stay safe on stairs with light-sensitive night lights in unlit stairwells, hallways, and by placing light switches at doorways, and at top and bottom on stairs. Railings should be installed for sturdiness on steps of porches. Paint porches with grit to prevent slips.
One last point: if you have pets, watch them when you have older visitors, if you are a senior citizen, or have someone living with you that needs a safe haven. I had a very dear friend, 97 years old, who had always been very careful about falling, because she was a very tiny lady and concerned about breaking her hip. While visiting, the owner’s large dog greeted her, and knocked her down. The result was a broken hip, and she died from complications of the surgery. (She sweetly said, “it wasn’t the dog’s fault!” ) Another first-hand accident I am aware of was when an 80-year old lady was tripped by a young cat. She also broke her hip, and required weeks of therapy following surgery. She was in her early 80’s, and survived. Our animals don’t intend to hurt someone, but we must be vary careful to avoid these types of accidents.
I hope these ideas will be of help. Tomorrow, we will continue with more tips. Please stay tuned………………….