Many older adults live alone, and they enjoy their independence and thrive in their personal space. However, it’s essential to make sure they are safe inside their home. Demographics show we live in an aging society and more older people are trying to live alone maintaining their independence. Taking steps to make the home safer will reduce accidents and the need for long-term health care.
If you have an older parent living alone or are trying to maintain your own independence, these simple tips will help achieve the goal.
Install Grab Bars
The mobility of older adults may be limited. Movements like bending, stretching, and reaching may hurt the body. Therefore, extra support is always recommended. Installing grab bars inside the home for bending support is a good idea, and you can place them in some regions of the house that are used the most. When it comes to activities like cleaning, installing grab bars is one best cleaning tips for those with limited mobility.
Falls are a significant concern and have become a major reason for trips to the Emergency Room or the need for long-term health care. Be sure there are clear walkways throughout the home. When walking on smooth floors, wearing non-slip footwear, such as slippers with rubber/non-slip bottoms or flat, thin-soled shoes, will reduce the fall risk.
Those who have problems with their balance should use their walker or cane inside the house, even if you have grab bars inside the home. Always avoid holding on to the walls or furniture.
Remove clutter in walkways - including removing throw rugs. Throw rugs create a significant fall risk and should not be inside the home.
Avoid Bathroom Hazards
Grab bars should also be installed in the bathroom by the shower and near the toilet. Be sure the grab bars are used as some seniors are in denial about their need.
A rubber mat in the bathtub will prevent slipping when taking a shower. Walk-in showers should have a seat to sit down on if they feel the need to do so.
Adjust the water heater no higher than 120° F to prevent scalding.
Install a Medical Alert System
One of the best ways for older adults to protect themselves from medical injuries is by installing a medical alert system. These are security devices that include wireless remotes that adults can activate from anywhere inside their homes. Then, in case of a medical emergency, the system alerts emergency services to contact the user.
Be sure there is plenty of lighting throughout the home. Night lights in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms can provide safety if getting up in the middle of the night. Outside lighting will also maintain safety. Be sure light bulbs are changed right away as they go out.
Set Up Daily Check-Ins with a Loved One
Stay connected with loved ones by scheduling a daily check-in. These check-ins can be a call, text, or visit from a loved one. The assurance that someone is looking out for them gives peace of mind to the older adult. In addition, in case of an emergency, your loved one will have your contact information and can assist first responders.
Update Alarm Systems
Older adults living alone should update their alarm systems. Whether it’s your smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, or security alarm, it should stay up to date. Then, in case of emergencies, these systems will alert the person, and they can take action to ensure their safety.
Emergency Contact Lists
Older adults should also keep an updated written emergency contact list. Your list can include family members, doctors, trusted neighbors, and any other vital phone numbers. Make sure your list is easily accessible by placing it in plain-sight areas.
It is highly recommended that a list of all medications is also available which can be helpful for first responders if they enter the home.
Maintain Independence and Avoid Dependency
Many older adults enjoy the independence they get from living alone. However, it’s essential to make sure the living environment is secure. You can take extra measures to ensure your safety at home.
While professional caregivers may be required at some point, you can delay the need for care by taking the proper steps ahead of time.
Pre-planning will also make aging easier on family and finances. Planning should include things like power-for-attorney paperwork and Long-Term Care Insurance. The more that is done before aging and health issues happen will protect assets, reduce family stress, and keep you in control of your life. The ideal time to plan is in your 40s or 50s.
About the Author
Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.
Contributor since September 25th, 2020
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