National Senior Citizens Day is a time set aside to recognize our older population. Celebrated on August 21st, this day is meant to show appreciation to those who have worked, achieved, sacrificed and accomplished so much to make our lives and our world a better place.
If you have a loved one who’s older, one way to help show your gratitude is by making their home safer – so they can live more independently – with these senior safety tips:
Tip #1: Eliminate Fall Hazards
Falls are one of the biggest safety threats to seniors. In fact, on average, one third of adults over the age of 65 fall in their home each year, leading to an injury or disability. It’s why removing slippery area rugs, installing grab bars in the shower and tub, and making sure they have proper-fitting shoes are so important. In addition, install extra lighting throughout their home and place anti-slip adhesive stair treads and a sturdy railing at each staircase.
Tip #2: Improve Bathroom Safety for Your Senior
One area that can lead to slips, trips, falls and other issues is the bathroom. Beyond grab bars in the shower and tub, add traction with skid-proof mats or anti-slip adhesive treads. There are even anti-slip formulas, which are liquid-based coatings that can be applied to the shower or tub floor for permanent traction.
Also, place a non-skid bath rug outside the tub and shower area for them to step onto once they’re done bathing. It will help avoid slipping and absorb water drips.
Another way to improve bathroom safety is to install a nightlight that remains on overnight. This will offer some soft lighting that helps them navigate their way with more ease. In addition, lower your loved one’s water heater to 120 degrees or below to ensure they aren’t accidentally scalded.
Tip #3: Keep the Kitchen Safe
The kitchen is another room in the home where an elderly individual can get into trouble. Some ways to avoid safety issues for your senior include:
- Installing more overhead lighting
- Clearing up clutter on the floors
- Clearly marking the “on” and “off” buttons on the oven and stove
- Keeping hazardous items, like cleaning agents, away from where food is stored
Also aim to regularly check your loved one’s pantry and fridge to remove expired items and replace them with fresh foods.
Tip #4: Invest in a Medical Alert System
With a medical alert system, help is at your loved one’s fingertips. If there’s a fall, fire or other emergency, they can press a button, either around their neck or on their wrist. They are then connected to a 24/7 monitoring company for an immediate response.
Today, there are even systems that can tell if the individual has fallen, and there are panic buttons that can be installed in various rooms to serve the same purpose. Look for ones that are voice-activated.
Tip #5: Install a Home Security System
The elderly population is at a higher risk for home thefts and break-ins since they’re more vulnerable and often live alone. A security system can deter criminal activity and ensure your loved one is protected. They’ll also have a greater sense of well-being knowing their home is being monitored 24/7. For more comprehensive senior safety, there are even some systems that offer both medical alert and home security features.
Tip #6: Protect Your Loved One’s Identity
Seniors are also more susceptible to identify theft. In fact, there are even scammers who specifically target senior citizens since they aren’t as tech savvy as younger generations.
To keep your loved one safe, explain to them why they should never give out their credit card, Social Security number or other private details to a stranger, whether over the phone, via email or if someone comes knocking at their door. Educate them about common phone and online scams and invest in an identity protection theft program that will alert you if their identity has been compromised.
Tip #7: Manage Medications Carefully
If your loved one is on numerous medications, it can be difficult to manage them all. To avoid missed doses and related safety issues, review medications frequently. Make a schedule of each medication, when it is to be taken, at what dose and if they need to eat first.
Clearly label each one and dispose of those that have expired. If your loved one has a hard time reading fine print, ask their pharmacist to provide large print labels.
Pill organizers and medicine boxes can also prove invaluable when it comes to medication management. Today, there are even automatic pill dispensers you can purchase for the home that are controlled through an app.
Tip #8: Prepare for Emergencies
If there’s an emergency, such as a power outage, you want your loved one to be prepared, especially if they live alone. Create an easily accessible safety kit for your senior that includes:
- A flashlight with batteries
- A battery-operated radio
- Extra batteries for their hearing aid, flashlight and radio
- An extra pair of glasses and any extra medical equipment they may need
- A first aid kit that is fully stocked
- A list of prescription medications and dosage amounts, as well as the names and phone numbers of physicians and emergency contacts
In addition, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors near the bedrooms in your loved one’s home and check them annually. It’s also important for them to have a working fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen and know how to use it if they are able.
Tip #9: Hire a Companion to Keep Your Senior Safe
If your senior is still struggling with safety issues at home, consider hiring a home care companion. These are trained professionals who can help your loved one in a range of ways. For instance, they can aid with mobility, as well as bathing and dressing needs. They can also help with grocery shopping, meal preparation and housekeeping, as well as transportation and medication reminders.
Hiring a professional caregiver can provide you and your family with peace of mind knowing your loved one is in safe and caring hands when you’re not able to be with them. If you’re concerned about senior safety for your loved one, contact your local FirstLight® Home Care today. We offer skilled and compassionate caregivers who can step in and help in a range of ways.