What are the Dangers?
Falling can occur in any part of the home, but there are areas where that risk is heightened. Falling is the number one danger for seniors; one out of four seniors over the age of 65 will fall every year. These falls result in fatal and nonfatal injuries. The majority of these falls involve the staircases or steps. Seniors typically have limited mobility and have trouble with ascending and descending stairs, which can lead to falling. Steps going into buildings such as restaurants, stores, and other businesses can also lead to injury. Seniors can crack their head on the concrete or curb. Non-serious falls can have lasting effects on a senior’s mentality, making them fearful of being active. Seniors over the age of 70 have an increased risk of injury from falls. According to a study published in the Journal of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery, people over 70 are three times more likely to die after a low-level fall. Low levels fall include falling on the even ground, falling off of a curb and slipping on a wet floor. The bathroom is a huge risk for sustaining injuries. Water on the floor is a slipping hazard as previously mentioned. Falling in the bathroom can result in head trauma from hitting the bathroom counter, the edge of the tub, the toilet seat, or hard ground. Falling in the tub can result in hitting the faucet, tub edge, or any bars. Falls in other areas of the home can be a result of uneven flooring or rugs. Tripping on the legs of furniture and any knocked over household items are may also result in falls. Other safety concerns revolve around prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Some seniors are forgetful even if they do not have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Overdosing or skipping medication is a possibility that can have damaging health consequences. Kitchen fires can start easily and spread quickly. 166,100 house fires started with the use of cooking equipment in a four-year period (2010–2014) according to the National Fire Protection Association. Those fires claimed the lives of 480 civilians. Most house fires are preventable. Lack of home security increases an older adult’s risk of being burglarized. Criminals prey on the elderly because it is easier to break in without being met with force. Seniors can be hurt or killed in these events. The general public does not usually think of drug abusers to be among the elderly population. The sad reality is that seniors are more likely to be prescribed long-term and multiple prescriptions, which can lead to improper use of medicines, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug abuse is difficult to spot in seniors because the symptoms are commonly associated to be a part of a medical issue. Different from drug abuse, drug misuse is a common problem among seniors. They can easily skip medication or take the wrong dosage.
How to Stay Safe Inside the Home
Luckily, many common injuries are easily preventable. If an older adult still has the ability to walk up and down the stairs, the steps taken to prevent falls are simple and easy. If there is a scatter rug either at the top of the stairs or the bottom, either remove it entirely or tack down the edges.This is useful for any scatter rugs in the home. The railings (inside and outside) should be inspected for stability. Reinforce any loose screws so the railings do not give way and so older adults feel secure using the railing. If the senior has a habit of storing objects on the side of stairs, investing in an organizer bin can be useful to keep the clutter to a minimum. Move the bin to a safer spot off the stairs.
Also, if the stairs inside the home have a slick, wax-like surface, it is suggested to add carpeting or non-slip adhesive strips to avoid slip and falls. Making sure there is adequate light for the staircase/walkway is important as well. Some seniors are not able to walk up and down a flight of stairs. A chairlift can be installed in order to access all parts of the home that a person may have been avoided completely. Chair lifts are attached to a motorized rail that is installed to the side of the staircase. Chair lifts can be custom designed so they fit on any staircase. They come with a seat belt and other safety features as well. Fire safety is one of the biggest components of home security. A fire extinguisher should be placed on every floor of the home in case a small fire breaks out. Smoke detectors should also be placed on every floor with battery checks once a month. The United States Fire Administration recommends changing the batteries twice a year to ensure the alarms keep working. Ensuring kitchen safety should be one of the top priorities for seniors. The kitchen should be well lit to avoid injuries. If necessary, brightly colored on and off labels should be added to appliances to reduce the risk of being left on. Purchasing an electric kettle that has an automatic shutoff will eliminate the risk of fire. Traditional stovetop kettles can be forgotten and may lead to a fire. Any necessary and heavy items should be moved from higher cabinets and shelves to lower areas for easy access. Objects near a heat source should be moved away to avoid sparking a fire or melting.
Regularly checking expiration dates and replacing old food will keep the person from contracting food-related illnesses. Any spills should be promptly cleaned to avoid slipping on a wet surface or having a sticky floor where shoes can stick. Nightlights should be added to the kitchen visibility in the dark as well. Some seniors need grab bars installed around the toilet and in the bathtub. Grab bars help seniors pull themselves up and give them security as they get out of the bathtub or off of the toilet. Many seniors have a portion of their tub cutout, so they can get in and out easily. Placing a shower chair in the tub will allow seniors to comfortably bathe without having to bend over from the standing position and possibly fall. Bathmats should be placed in front of the tub and at the sink. Securing them to the floor with adhesive strips will eliminate the risk of sliding and possibly falling. All windows should have childproof locks so that an outsider cannot crawl through and gain entry. Curtains should not be touching a heat source such as a baseboard or space heater. Doors should have updated locks as well and should be reinforced with metal or a hardwood for durability. Keys to the door should never be hidden outside because they can be found by a stranger. Give copies to trusted family members instead. Grandchildren bring a lot of joy to their grandparents. They can also cause a lot of mess. To keep seniors safe, designating toy areas for grandchildren can reduce the risk of tripping over toys. Of course, children do not always listen. Implementing a reward system may be beneficial in teaching them to not leave their toys where people can trip over them. Due to the high percentage of seniors who experience falls, home alert buttons that the person wears may save their life.
When activated, alert buttons call an operator who will ask what the emergency is to assess the situation through the alert system’s base in the home. If there is no response, they will dispatch an ambulance immediately. This is especially important if the senior does not have frequent visitors who can discover the person after a fall. As previously mentioned, seniors are at an increased risk of break-ins. Many different home security efforts can be implemented to increase safety. Installing cameras at the front and back door can help deter unwanted visitors, whether the cameras are operational or not. Operational cameras offer more security by being able to identify any criminals. With cameras, motion sensor lights in the front and backyard will help. Motion sensor lights reduce the risk of falling in the dark by illuminating the area. They also might scare off unwanted visitors as well. Pill organizers are helpful tools for sorting out medications. This helps sort out the correct pills and dosage at the right times. If a senior is having trouble remembering to take their medication, setting an alarm can be helpful.
- https://www.asecurelife.com/forums/…/best-home-security-for-elderly-folks-living-alo https://www.safewise.com/blog/keep-senior-parents-safe-home/