Every year in the U.S., more than 7,000 seniors die at home due to easily preventable accidents including fires, poisoning, and slip-and-fall accidents. Since prevention is the best medicine, caregivers need to take the necessary safety precautions and measures, remove potential risks and hazards, and have a meaningful conversation with the senior they’re caring for about home safety.A safety plan that includes risk identification and mitigation is also crucial. If you want to improve their living conditions at home and prevent dangerous situations from occurring, here are some of the most important home safety tips to remember.
Prevent Slips and Falls
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans spend more than $30 billion every year on medical expenses caused by slip-and-fall accidents. To prevent the risk of injury from such accidents, check out the tips below:
- Keep all rooms well-lit at night. Install night lights and outdoor lighting options.
- Install handlebars and non-skid mats in the shower and bathroom.
- Clean up spills right away.
- Keep the floors clean and uncluttered. Get rid of scatter rugs, secure loose carpet edges by taping or nailing them down, and repair any carpet fraying.
- Reduce obstructions by arranging the furniture and ensuring that there’s enough space for walking.
- Walking aids (walkers, canes) should be within easy reach at all times, and use should be encouraged as an alternative to furniture surfing which provides seniors with a false sense of security.
- Close doors and drawers after use to prevent tripping accidents and bruising.
- Keep any heavy items in waist-level storage spaces.
- Consider a fall-detection alarm, which can be programmed to remotely alert family members to a fall.
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Fire is another major risk to a senior’s health and safety. Below are some tips to reduce fire hazards at home:
- Don’t smoke or use open flames near oxygen tanks.
- Unplug appliances that aren’t being used and don’t overload the power strips and circuits.
- Seniors should use extra caution when cooking, particularly on the stovetop. Having a backless stool in the kitchen is a good way for them to avoid standing too long, as opposed to going into the next room to sit and rest, in which case they’re more likely to fall asleep or forget the burner’s on.
- Regularly check electric cords and replace the ones that show signs of fraying or damage.
- Avoid using candles.
- Avoid using a space heater. If there is no other heating option available, keep it away from furniture, bedding, and curtains. Turn it off before leaving the house or going to sleep.
- Install smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system.
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Prevent Choking and Suffocation
Choking is the second leading cause of injury death for seniors. This is because the swallowing function tends to deteriorate as people age. When a senior is regularly taking medication, their mouths and throats also tend to be less moist.
To prevent choking and suffocation, it’s highly recommended to serve food with minimal choking risk such as ground meat, pudding, or soup. Mealtime should always be supervised. Medications should always be taken with a 6 or 8 oz. glass of water.
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Unintentional poisoning can also happen at home. Here are some home safety tips to prevent this from happening:
- Monitor the intake of prescription drugs. Pillboxes are highly recommended to minimize the risk of mismanaging medications or overdosing.
- Test for radon exposure.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors. If they’re battery operated, make sure to change the batteries twice a year just like you would for a battery-operated smoke alarm.
Seniors are at a higher risk of suffering from accidents and unintentional injuries even at home. As a caregiver, it’s your duty and responsibility to make sure they’re well-cared-for and that their safety is your top priority. Keep the tips above in mind when developing a safety plan for the senior you’re caring for.
Arista Home Care Solutions believes that every elder deserves the best love, care, and attention. Our experienced and talented caregiving professionals are here to serve you. If you wish to learn more about our products and services, contact us today.
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