7 Home Safety Tips for Seniors Living Independently
An increasing number of seniors are living independently. Maintaining that independence means a lot to many seniors and their families. Having the freedom to live your life the way that suits you has many benefits, including a positive impact on mental health.
However, one of the most important factors to consider as an older individual living alone is your safety and security. Several incidents can occur more commonly to seniors living independently, and you should be aware that certain types of crime can target seniors. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make your home a safer environment.
HOME SAFETY TIPS FOR SENIORS
Check-in With Relatives or Friends Regularly
When you live alone, it's crucial to update your loved ones frequently on your wellbeing. While you need to maintain your independence, you still want to make sure there is someone who expects to hear from you regularly so that if ever you don’t get in touch, they’ll know something is wrong and check on you.
If you have a caregiver, make sure that your loved ones maintain communication with them, as well as with your neighbors and friends, to update them on your wellbeing. Aside from having your loved ones over to visit, you should also call them if you need help with anything, such as a cleaning or repair job.
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Make Bathrooms Safe
Bathrooms can be a minefield when it comes to safety for seniors, so you must take steps to ensure you are as safe as possible when using yours. Not only is there a risk of slips and falls, but also one of scalding. There are a few things you can do to ensure your safety in the bathroom.
If possible, have a walk-in bath and a handheld shower installed to make moving around the bathroom easier. Ensure there are plenty of railings around the shower, bath, and toilet for support. A raised toilet may also benefit you.
Prevent accidental burns by testing the bath or shower water before you get in. Putting your elbow into the water is a suitable method because this area of skin is more sensitive than your hand, giving you a better sense of the heat level.
Rubber mats can help prevent slipping, and a motion-activated nightlight or two on the way to the bathroom help make late-night bathroom trips much safer.
Consider Fall Hazards
Your healthcare provider may be able to offer you a falls risk assessment and suggest ways of preventing falls in your home. You can also do several things to lessen the likelihood of a fall and be prepared for one if it does occur. For example, you could consider a wearable alarm that calls the emergency services, meaning that you don’t have to worry about getting to the phone if you’re injured after a fall.
When it comes to answering your phone, try not to rush as this can be one of the leading causes of falls in the home. Wear non-slip footwear around your house wherever possible.
You may also be able to speak to your healthcare provider about an exercise program or physical therapy if you have suffered a fall in the past.
Protect Against Fire
Fire prevention methods are important in any home, but if your mobility would limit you from escaping quickly in an emergency, it’s even more critical to consider. Have more than one way of getting out of your home in the event of a fire. Never try to put out a fire; instead, leave immediately and call 911.
Remember not to wear loose clothing when cooking, and don't leave any candles burning unattended, even for a short period. Ensure your smoke detectors are all working regularly, or have someone help you test them. Place heaters away from potential fire hazards, and avoid overloading electric sockets or extension cords.
Protect Against Poisoning
There are several things to look out for when it comes to safety for seniors and potential poisoning risks in the home. Never mix cleaning chemicals, such as bleach and ammonia, because the combination gives off deadly gases.
Keep medications in their original containers and have a system to ensure you are taking the correct dosages at the right times. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s essential to have a working detector in your home.
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Take Steps to Protect Yourself from Abuse
It is a sad fact that seniors are sometimes the target of criminals looking to take advantage. A few small steps can help prevent such incidents, like keeping your doors and windows locked at all times.
Consider investing in motion sensor lighting to deter burglars from breaking into your house at night, especially if you don’t drive and there’s no car in the driveway. A home alarm system can also be a valuable tool to make you feel safe when you’re home alone at night. It may go without saying, but never let a stranger into your home when you are alone, no matter what they say they are there for.
If a salesperson tries to pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable, have a plan in place for politely asking them to leave so that you can consider the offer and come back to them if appropriate. Never share any of your personal or identifying information such as credit cards or social security numbers unless you are the one contacting the institution that requires it.
Have Emergency Numbers Ready
It is a good idea to keep a list of emergency contact numbers by each phone in your home. This list includes the emergency services and the numbers of relatives, healthcare providers, and poison control. Ensure you have a phone that is easy for you to access and use, even in an emergency.
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Safe and Independent Living for Seniors
Independent living is something to be cherished and enjoyed. To ensure that you and your loved ones can focus on spending time together, take the necessary steps to maximize your safety at home for peace of mind.
There are several options to make independent living easy and secure. Having systems in place and checking in with people regularly can allow you the freedom to continue living your life knowing that you are well prepared for any eventuality.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eliza Moyer is a highly trained, task oriented disaster relief specialist. Her decades of personal experience and training (including a Master’s degree in Emergency Management) have been bent toward prevention and preparedness for her clients, reducing the casualties and cleanup time needed after disasters.
eliza moyer // Security Expert
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