As a family caregiver, it is important to safe-proof your home. Falls are the seventh leading cause of death in persons over the age of 65. There are a variety of reasons for falls, such as falls from ladders or scaffolding, falls from slipping, tumbling or tripping.
It is important to know the hazards and then take the necessary precautions.
It is important to constantly be alert.
Here are some general safety tips to help reduce or eliminate hazards in your home.
- 1. Emergency telephone numbers and your address should be posted by each telephone.
- 2. Ideally the home or living area should be on one level, and preferably the ground level. Stairs are a big danger for elderly people.
- 3. Inside and outside door handles and locks should be easy to operate. Lever-action handles are easier to operate rather than round knobs.
- 4. Install at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps.
- 5. Remove any furniture that is not needed. Avoid clutter.
- 6. All remaining furniture should be stable and without sharp corners, to minimize the effects of a fall.
- 7. Remove throw rugs, sharp objects and clutter.
- 8. Place carpet or safety grip strips on stairs.
- 9. Keep the layout of furniture and pathways the same.
- 10. Make sure halls are three feet wide and six to eight feet high.
- 11. Make sure chair seats are twenty inches high.
- 12. Make sure all rooms have adequate lighting. In addition, use automatic night lights in every room.
- 13. Develop and practice a fire-escape plan. Keep clear the fire escape routes.
- 14. Place a smoke alarm in every bedroom and on every floor.
- 15. Place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and bedroom. Make sure it is in date.
- 16. The water heater thermostat is set at 120 degrees F or lower.
- 17. Medications are stored in a safe place.
- 18. Keep several flashlights (and back-up batteries) on hand in case of a power failure. Do not use candles as they are a fire hazard.
- 19. Never use a chair or a box in place of sturdy ladder.
- 20. Do not have an electric lamp cord trailing across the floor. Have additional base plugs installed so long cords are not necessary.
- 21. Wear nonslip, low-heeled shoes or slippers that fit snugly. Don't walk around in stocking feet.
- 22. Consider putting a bench or stool in the shower.
- 23. Watch your alcohol intake. More than two drinks per day can cause unsteadiness.
- 24. Stand up slowly to avoid unsteadiness.
- 25. Have your hearing and eyesight tested. Inner ear problems can affect balance.
It is a good idea to regularly check your house for hazards. Make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit in a handy place in your home.
Reference: Rebecca Colmer is an Eldercare Expert, Author, Speaker, Publisher, and Caregiver Expert. You can find more caregiving tools and resources at her website: www.meandmycaregivers.com