As our population ages and retirement communities become more prevalent, our elderly friends and family members are choosing much earlier how they want to spend the remainder of their lives. According to the AARP, many prefer to live independently at home as long as possible. As we become healthier and living longer in the United States, the number of Americans aged 65-plus is projected to double by 2050. There will be a growing number of older people living at home over the next three decades.
Living at home provides the comfort and relaxation that many seek, however, there are also risks – falls, fires or accidental poisoning. Know how to make your family member or friend’s home as safe as possible so they can truly enjoy their time there.
Five Tips for Keeping Elderly Family Members Safe at Home
Here are five tips from the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation to protect loved ones from home hazards:
- Keep Emergency Numbers Handy. Write largely and clearly and locate your list by every phone in the house. Be sure to include numbers for the poison control center, fire and police departments, family members and the family doctor.
- Prevent Falls. Every 13 seconds a fall-related injury is treated in an emergency room and every 20 minutes someone dies from a fall. To prevent falls, make sure all hallways, stairs and paths are well lit and clear of objects, use rails and banisters when taking the stairs and tape all area rugs and cords to the floor so they don’t move.
- Protect Against Fire & Related Dangers. First, don’t smoke indoors. And, second, make sure there is a LOUD, working smoke alarm on every level of the house, in bedrooms and outside of sleeping areas.
- Avoid Bathroom Hazards. 80% of elderly falls occur in the bathroom where it is slippery. Install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet. Put rubber mats in the bathtub.
- Prevent Poisoning. Mistakes can include taking too much medication, taking the wrong medication or incorrectly mixing two or more medications. To prevent accidental poisoning, keep all medications in original containers to avoid mix-ups, and store medications in a well-lit room so the labels are easier to read. Ask the pharmacy to put large-print labels on prescriptions. And bring all pill bottles to doctor appointments to insure medications are being taken correctly.