Every year, thousands of elderly adults become victims of accidents in the home. The consequences can sometimes be very severe, occasionally even leading to death. But even if the physical injuries are slight, the loss of confidence from having an accident can significantly impact someone’s quality of life.
If you have older relatives, you’ll want to do everything you can to minimize the likelihood of accidents in their homes and avoid the pain and distress they cause.
Talking to your elderly relatives about how to accident-proof their home before things become the problem is important. People are more likely to feel positive about taking measures around the home to prevent accidents if it’s done before they begin to feel vulnerable, and most preventative measures make good sense for every home.
Begin by asking about areas they feel could be difficult. Using stairs could be a potential problem, or perhaps stepping out of the shower or bath makes them fearful. Maybe they lack confidence in moving around outside the house.
Take a home audit
Take a tour of the home and make a note of potential trouble spots. Visit each room and make a list of actions you need to take to make it safer. Many improvements are easy and cheap to carry out, although you may find some modifications are more expensive and need the help of professionals.
Trips and falls
Trips and falls of the leading cause of accidents amongst the elderly. Thousands of people each year are treated in the emergency room for falls at home, and over half of these will enter a long-term care facility and never return home. This can cause immense distress to the victims, not to mention the financial implications involved.
Check each area of the home and identify possible hazards. Ensure there is good lighting, both indoors and outside, to ensure that everyone can see clearly where they are walking. If possible, remove rugs and mats, and make sure that carpeting or flooring doesn’t have any loose edges. Bathrooms are notorious for accidents, so install non-slip matting into baths and showers. If you have an outdoor pool, put a fence around it to avoid someone falling in accidentally.
As people get older, their mobility becomes reduced, so look for ways to make life easier within the home. Installing grab rails next to toilets and steps will make moving around safer, and an easy-rise chair or bed will make standing and sitting much easier. Fiddly light switches can be difficult to operate with limited hand mobility, so look for alternatives such as a pull cord or a switch that can press easily.
Burns and scalds
Burns and scalds are also common household accidents. Keep kitchen worktops clear and uncluttered, so hot pans can be put down easily, and install a fire extinguisher or fire blanket where Who can reach them quickly. Put firescreens in front of fires and check external heaters, such as fan heaters, to see that they are in good condition. Fitting a thermostat to the hot water system will ensure that bathwater never becomes hot enough to scald.
Make an emergency plan.
Don’t wait until an emergency before putting measures in place. Talk to your relatives about a clear exit plan in the event of a fire or other emergency. Make sure they know how to leave the house safely and where they should go for help. Put a list of emergency contact numbers (including your own) next to the phone – you may want to leave a list with friendly neighbors as a backup plan. If your parents are frail, consider a monitoring system that will alert you promptly to a household emergency.
Have an ongoing strategy
Especially if you live some distance away, you will want to make sure your relatives’ home remains a safe environment for them to live in. Check the house regularly for any problems which may have arisen since your last visit. List routine tasks, such as remembering to check smoke alarm batteries to ensure they’re working correctly.
Also Read: 7 Steps to Protect Yourself From Alzheimer
Of course, there’s no way to guarantee that accident won’t happen. But a few simple precautions can give your elderly relatives the best chance of living in their own home safely and securely for many years to come.