How to Keep a Senior Loved One Safe in Their Own Home

Dawn Cowles/Courtesy

In a study undertaken by the Federal Housing Administration, it was found that almost 90% of homeowners who were approaching retirement wanted to stay in their own home. This can be challenging and worrying for their loved ones as there will be concerns about their safety. 

If you’ve got a senior loved one who wants to spend their final years at home, there are things you can do to keep them safe. For example, medical alert devices will summon emergency assistance.

If you want to keep your loved one safe and ensure their independence, the following safety tips will help them age in place longer.

A Leading Cause of Injuries in Seniors Aged 65 and Over 

Falls in the home are a leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries in the 65 and over age group. It’s not only the injuries themselves that can be the problem. Because of decreased bone density and aging skin, recovery from these falls can often be difficult. 

The following home safety tips will help to reduce the risk of a fall and keep your elderly loved one safe at home. 

Remove any trip hazards

There are several areas around the home that can be high risk such as electrical cords, ottomans, area rugs, and low tables. If the home includes a pet or there are young children, be sure to pick up all the toys. 

To reduce the fall risks, install non-slip flooring and make sure all wires and cords are covered.

Install grab bars in the bathroom

A high percentage of falls in the home occur in the bathroom. Grab bars are a great way to reduce the risks. They are easy to install yourself and you can find them at your local hardware stores. 

Add accessible seating

You can make your loved one’s home more senior friendly by adding accessible seating. Suggestions include installing a bench by the front door so they can use it when putting on shoes. Stools in the kitchen and shower also make it easier for your loved one to perform daily living activities such as bathing independently and cooking. 

Check the thresholds

When flooring is raised between rooms it can be a significant trip hazard. Making thresholds easy for your loved one to cross should be one of the first things you do. 

Contact your local safety expert and ask about flattening thresholds or other modifications such as adding handrails or indoor ramps. 

Remember to check outdoor spaces

It’s likely your loved one isn’t going to be spending all their time indoors so check outdoor spaces as well. Regularly check the driveway to ensure there are no cracks, be sure to keep the path to the mailbox clear and remove trip hazards such as roots and rocks from the backyard.

Technology Come to the Rescue

While not every senior is tech savvy, there’s no reason why some of the simple and easy-to-use devices can’t help them age at home safely. Technology can help reduce the risk of falls, manage medication, and access help in an emergency. 

Here are some of the ways technology can help keep your loved one safe:

Medical alert devices

These can keep your senior loved one safe in their home. There are numerous different types, but in general, they will have an easy-access button that can be used to call for emergency assistance. They can be connected to a landline or cellular service. Additional features include fall detection, but this often incurs an additional fee. 

Senior-friendly phones

As well as allowing a senior to keep in touch with friends and family, they can also use the cell phone to call for emergency help in case of an accident. 

Additional features to look for include GPS tracking and built-in emergency networks. 

Smart home devices

Not all seniors are happy to embrace technology, but smart home devices can ease them in gently. Smart devices can be used for a wealth of different things, from setting medication reminders to making landline-to-landline emergency phone calls. 

GPS tracking devices

If your loved one is prone to wandering, being able to track where they are at all times can be reassuring. This type of device is particularly useful when a loved one suffers with memory loss or dementia. 

Telehealth services   

Telehealth services allow your senior loved one to contact a doctor or nurse without having to leave their home. 

Home Safety Checklist

Keeping your loved one’s home well maintained is essential. Ask yourself the following questions when creating a home safety checklist.

  • Is there a working smoke detector on every level?
  • Is there a carbon monoxide detector in the house?
  • Do all the common rooms have easy-to-use fire extinguishers?
  • When was the last time the furnace was inspected?
  • In the bathroom, are handles, bathmats, and towel racks secure?
  • Are all the lights operational?
  • Are there any poorly lit spaces that would benefit from motion sensors or smart lights?
  • During your visits, check around for signs of hoarding, excessive trash around the home, and funny smells.
  • Are doors and locks operational? 

Final Thoughts

To keep your senior loved one safe you have to be proactive. There’s no point in waiting for something to happen before you take action, because this could be too late. 

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