As the population becomes increasingly older, younger members of a family have to contend with the issues associated with aging parents and other family members. Difficulties with their vision, hearing, balance, strength, and memory can affect anyone at any time. Unfortunately, any of these changes can put seniors at risk for injury. What happens when a senior still wants to live in their home even when they are experiencing any of the above issues? Fortunately, there are ways to make their home safe and secure. Below are seven safety features you can incorporate into most residences:
- Canes, walkers or scooters: A mobility aid such as a cane, walker, or scooter can help any senior negotiate the layout of their home. Make sure that the hallways and doorways are wide enough to accommodate their mobility aid. Also, you may need to change the layout of furniture to ensure that the senior can navigate their home easily without bumping into items or knocking things over.
- Railings and hand bars: Elderly people can have trouble with their balance, especially in the bathroom or bedroom. To prevent falls, add hand bars in the bathroom, particularly in the shower area, and install railings in very location where there are steps, both inside and outside. Depending on their mobility, a stair glide can help seniors travel to different floors easily and safely.
- Lighting: Seniors can have problems with their vision. Install brighter lights in the kitchen and in the front of outside doors. Consider night lights in the bedroom for those seniors needing to get up in the middle of the night. Make sure that any lights you install are easily accessible.
- Communication devices: Anyone can experience an emergency at any time, especially seniors. Arrange for them to have a mobile device or cordless telephone. You can find devices that have larger text, and you can program in an emergency help number for swift attention. Also consider an emergency alert device that they can wear, and even an alarm system that is connected to either the police or fire department.
- Appliance shut off mechanisms: Everyone has experienced that moment when you forgot to turn off an element on the stove. As a precaution, find appliances, such as kettles, ovens, and electric blankets, that shut off after a certain amount of time. Also select appliances that have larger buttons and controls for easier reading.
- Entrance and exit ramps: Do you know if a senior can use the stairs safely outside their home? If not, consider installing ramps, particularly for those using wheelchairs and walkers. For those in apartments and condominiums, check that they have easy access to elevators and ramps in the common areas of the building so that they can leave and return without concern.
- Smooth flooring: A final safety feature for seniors living at home is smooth flooring. Light rugs and carpets can quickly become a tripping hazard. Check that the transition between flooring types is smooth, especially when moving about with a wheelchair or walker. Find heavier rugs that won’t easily slip.
Home safety for seniors is very important for those wanting to remain in their residence. By assessing a senior’s abilities, making the necessary changes to their home can ensure they can live safely and happily there for years to come.