Our homes are often thought of as a place of comfort and refuge. Although our homes are safe and familiar, they still pose a risk for falls and other environmental hazards, especially for older adults. According to data provided by the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the emergency department visit rate for adults over the age of 60 is approximately 43 visits per 100 persons. This number increases with older age.
Reasons for an emergency department visit vary. However, the most common reason among older adults is due to unintentional falls. The National Institute on Aging reports that six out of every ten falls happen at home. Eighty percent of these falls occur in the bathroom. It’s important for seniors to evaluate their homes and identity environmental hazards that could pose a potential threat to their safety. Here are a few tips to help seniors create a safer home environment.
Ensure a safe home environment by minimizing clutter around the home. Clutter is easy to overlook because we tend to adapt to clutter around our homes. Take a moment to really look at each room in your house. Can you easily navigate from room to room? Address common tripping hazards, such as extension cords, piles of books or magazines, throw rugs, or loose carpet or floorboard. Arrange furniture so that you can easily move around the room. Ask a family member to evaluate your home to ensure you didn’t miss something. The easiest way to prevent a fall is to remove all potential fall hazards.
Address the Bathroom
Constructed from hard materials that become incredibly slick when wet, bathrooms are dangerous places for older adults. Ensure your bathroom remains safe as you age by properly maintaining it. Replace or install slip-resistant strips on the bottom of your shower or bathtub. Install grab bars inside and outside of the bathtub and around the toilet, if needed. Purchase a shower chair to keep in the stall so you can sit down should you feel dizzy while bathing. Replace loose bathmats with skid-resistant bath mats. Finally, adjust the thermostat on your water heater to prevent skin burns while bathing.
Adequately Light Your Home
Inadequate and poor lighting puts older adults at a greater risk for a fall. Create a safer environment by installing brighter light bulbs where needed, such as hallways and stairways. Because many seniors get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, it’s critical that the bathroom, and the pathway to the bathroom, are well lit. Install nightlights to illuminate the walkway from the bedroom to the bathroom. Use nightlights that automatically turn on when natural light dims.
Secure Medications and Household Cleaners
Don’t forget to address medications and household cleaners. These items can easily be mistaken for food or candy, especially for a senior with dementia. Find a central location to store all household cleaners and make sure that each bottle is clearly labeled. Lock them in a cabinet if there’s a risk for someone ingesting the chemicals. Store medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, in one location away from the kitchen pantry. Make sure each medication is clearly labeled. Properly dispose of all expired and unused medication. Write the proper dosages in large, bold print on the containers of each medication.
Older adults can significantly reduce their risk for falls or other environmental risks by keeping their homes a safe place. Senior Living Solutions understand the unique risks seniors face at home and the precautions that can be taken to reduce these risks. We help seniors find alternatives to nursing home care. Because we are a complimentary concierge service, we can give you unbiased guidance and resources to help you determine the type of care that fits your needs and lifestyle. Whether you feel your home has become too burdensome to manage or you wish to age-in-place safely, we can guide you towards senior living communities or home care companies that are reputable. To schedule your free consultation today, please get in touch with us by calling 501-650-3013.