Home safety for seniors
As lifespans increase, a growing number of over-50s are now opting to stay on in their own homes or live with family instead of moving to units specifically designed for senior citizens – but even the most active and healthy of them need to take precautions to avoid household accidents and minimize the risk of injury.
They also need to be realistic about some loss of mobility and dexterity as they move into their 60s and beyond, and go through their homes room-by-room to identify and eliminate potential problems.
Starting in the bathroom, the place where most in-home falls and injuries occur, the minimum suggested safety precautions are non-skid rubber mats or strips fixed to the base of the bath and a sturdy handrail in the shower.
In the kitchen, all taps, electrical sockets and appliance controls should be within easy reach; flammables should not be kept near the stove and countertops and cupboards should be at a convenient height for the seniors in the household.
Other safety aspects to consider include:
* Clear and unobstructed passages and walkways;
* Furniture of a comfortable height to allow even older people to rise easily;
* Windows which are easy to open and close securely;
* Electrical appliance leads that are safely out of the way;
* Easy access to a telephone in both the living area and bedroom; and
* Non-slip backing on loose rugs and mats.
It often takes just a little forethought to prevent a nasty accident, and in a shared home, the extra safety precautions will usually also benefit everyone else in the family too.