Guest blog by Tate Coulter from A Firm Foundation Home and Building Inspection
For many older Americans, living independently is the way to go. However, many seniors face risks of burns, falls, and poisonings. Criminals even prey on seniors for most of their criminal activities (such as robberies, burglaries, and even scamming them over the phone). If you’re a senior living independently or a caretaker responsible for an older loved one or individual, you need to know what steps to take in order for seniors to stay safe in their homes.
Here are some key tips:
Keep A List Of Emergency Numbers: These number should be written in large font as eyesight is an issue for most seniors. The following numbers must be included on the list:
–Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
–A family member or friend that is located near the senior’s residence
–Phone number of their primary care physician
Fall Prevention: Seniors who struggle with walking and balance are more susceptible to falls. If you have fallen as recently as the past year, please talk to your physician about a risk assessment to prevent you from falling in the future.
You should also consider having an alarm (i.e.–Life Alert) with you at all times. This will come in handy if you fall and are unable to reach for a telephone. This will dispatch emergency services to your home promptly.
If the phone rings, take your time to answer it. If you run, you may increase your risk of falling. Allow your voicemail or answering machine to pick it up. Alternatively, you can carry a cordless or cell phone.
Wear non-slip footwear, especially when walking on smooth floors. These include slippers with non-slip soles or flat, thin-soled shoes.
If you use a cane or a walker, have it with you at all times.
Keeping your home safe:
Be sure that all hallways, stairs, and paths are well lit and free from any obstructions. These include shoes, books, or anything that can pose as a trip hazard.
When climbing up or down stairs, always use the railing. Tape any area rugs on the floor so they won’t move when you walk on them.
Fire safety and prevention:
If there is a fire, do not attempt to put it out. Get to a safe place (preferably outdoors) and dial 911. Be sure to plan and know of two exits to get out of your home.
Do not wear loose or long-sleeved clothes while cooking.
Check appliance cords regularly for any frays or damages. Never plug in too many appliances in one socket.
Install smoke detectors where necessary and test them regularly. Batteries should be replaced at least twice a year.
Do not smoke in bed. Do not leave any burning candles unattended in an empty room.
Keep heaters three feet away from anything that can burn. Shut off any space heaters before leaving the room.
Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home where necessary. The batteries should be changed at least twice a year.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that will kill you. Never attempt to heat your home with the oven, stove, or grill.
Keep all medications in their original containers. Never put all of your medication in one container.
Have your pharmacist make the label of your medication large enough so it’s easy to read. Take your medication in a well-lit room so you can be able to read the labels.
Bring your pill bottles to your physician’s office if you have an appointment. This will determine if you are taking your medication properly.
Never mix ammonia, bleach, or other cleaning products while you are cleaning. Mixtures can create gases that can kill you.
Secure your windows and doors at all times. You should also not allow strangers inside your home.
If you receive a phone call that sounds like a telemarketer, don’t give them any of your personal information. Consult with a friend or family member before proceeding. The person on the other end may be a scammer.
Do not feel pressured into signing contracts or accepting offers. Always discuss plans with a family member or a friend.
Seniors are now more than ever enjoying their independence. But they must be aware of the dangers, especially when living alone. It is also important to check on them often to ensure they are safe and sound.