9 Practical Tips for the Elderly to Stay Safe at Home
When it comes to staying safe at home, we wanted to share a few tips for the elderly. These days there are more and more older people staying at home and for longer. Good health, a sensible home configuration and quite frankly, the cost of specific aged care locations has made staying at home longer more appealing. Of course, not wanting to leave the family home is another reason.
- Emergency numbers
Have a listing of Emergency numbers handy by the phone, stuck to the wall. Absolutely ensure they are in large print and ideally typed so there is no confusion as to the number. Have the obvious numbers there such as emergency numbers, but also their doctor as well as a few family members. Take extra care to double-check the numbers and ensure they are right; an emergency is not the time to discover the person who wrote (or typed) the numbers made a mistake.
- Personal alarms
Personal alarms (or panic alerts) are a great little device which you can wear either around the neck or wrist where you can then press a button to get help or assistance when needed. They usually contain GPS and linked to emergency services. Some can even have a few numbers programmed into them in order to contact close family as well. They are small, easy to use and could be the difference between lying on the floor for hours/days versus attaining prompt medical assistance or help. To ascertain options (there are quite a few), simply Google ‘personal alarm’ or ‘medical alert pendant’ and find a solution in your area. It will give the user and their family peace of mind. Consider also how emergency personnel can enter your home if you’re not able to open the front door.
- Prevent falls
For most elderly people, a fall is a huge fear. Where possible, aiming for a home on one level is ideal. The fewer steps that are involved, the better. If you have a healthcare provider who can visit, then engage their service for a review. When walking on potentially slippery floors, ensure rubber sole non-slip shoes are worn, which are well fitted. It’s also important to not wear loose and long flowing clothing, which can in itself cause a trip. In the bathroom, ensure you have non-slip mats, or a slip safe treatment installed on tiles or slippery areas this is something we can assist with or non-slip strips in the shower and bath can be installed. Look for bath mats which don’t slide or ‘bunch’ up to create a slip hazard, but definitely have something to catch and soak up any water on the floors.
A declutter helps, of course, if there is likely to be a move in the future, but it’s a good idea generally. In fact, all of us should have a regular declutter of our homes. Start with walkways and passages and areas where you need to move. It may even be a good idea to get someone to come in who has some experience (perhaps around WH&S) who is a fresh set of eyes. Ask them to do a review. Are walkways clear? Are there items on the floor which could be tripped over? Where particularly does the home need the most decluttering? How is the path from the bed to the bathroom? At night in the dark, the trip can become quite perilous, so ensuring there is absolutely nothing to fall over is critical.
- Safety proof their home
Ensure that all hallways, stairs and paths are well lit (inside and outside). If you are using sensor lights outside, regularly test them to ensure they are in good working condition. Ensure you have rails and banisters where suitable and especially in the bathroom. We can help in this area as we can provide safety rails or wheelchair (or walkie) ramps. Avoid rugs (especially top or bottom of stairs) as generally, these can form a trip hazard. Where possible have light coloured carpet; as dark colours can hide things on the floor, such as a pet or even a pair of shoes taken off.
- Be fire safe
Ensure all appliances are in good order and there are no frayed electrical cords. Watch that no ‘piggybacking’ of cords occur; that is all items are plugged directly into a wall socket or safe electrical board. Ensure items are not stacked over things that heat up such as a microwave oven or clothes drier or refrigerator. Ensure heaters are at least 3 feet away from anything which can burn such as bedding, furniture or curtains. Turn off space heaters when you leave the room. Does the homeowner have at least two ways to exit the home in case of an emergency? A locked front or back door which requires a key that is kept somewhere else may be great for hindering burglars, but how do you exit in the instance of an emergency or fire?
- Have great lighting
I’ve talked earlier about trips and falls and why excellent lighting is important in that regard, but it’s also very important for reading medicine bottles or even their mail which may contain important information about doctor appointments. Not all medical practices use a larger font when sending out letters and forget many of their patients don’t have the eyes of a 15 year old. Great lighting will also ensure the right object is being consumed, not perhaps a poison or something toxic.
- Smoke detectors
Whilst personal homes are not required to legally have smoke detectors yet (versus new homes or rentals) it would be wise to ensure these are installed in the home of anyone who is a bit older. Battery-operated ones are being phased out for hard-wired smoke detectors and will become legal, so it’s probably good to head that way now to avoid duplicating the activity down the track.
- Renovate your home
This is particularly where VIP Access comes in. We renovate homes to meet the needs of the disabled or elderly. We are licensed professional builders who specialise in this area. Bathroom renovations are particularly popular with our clients; allowing for a functional room that is easy to use, safe and meets the client’s needs. If you are looking for a more temporary solution (or during renovations) we hire out CarePorts which are essentially a mobile toilet/shower cubicle which is quickly hooked into plumbing and has its own little hot water system. These can be set up almost anywhere and once dismantled, you’ll never know it had been there. We are NDIS and Aged Care registered and also service private clients as well. We work with either the client or your occupational therapist to design and build a solution customised just for you. Every person is different as are their needs and there is no reason you need to struggle at home when we can provide home solutions to meet your needs.
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We hope these ideas have got you thinking and if you have a parent or loved one who is at home and getting on a bit, then take the time to ensure they are safe. Give the gift of perhaps getting a licensed electrician in to inspect their electrical situation, or install a smoke detector. If you’re looking for updates to the bathroom or grab rails or ramps – give us a call on 3807 4309. We’d be more than happy to talk about your needs and provide a quote. We operate in the Brisbane and Gold Coast areas, including Redlands and Logan.