Taking Senior Safety Seriously: Part 1

Most people have heard of “babyproofing” a home—things like putting up gates around stairs, locks on cabinets, and safety plugs in electrical outlets—to make sure a crawling baby or running toddler can’t hurt themselves. But how many of us have considered “senior proofing” our homes when we suddenly become responsible for the care of an elderly parent or relative? There are a number of common senior safety concerns that every caregiver should be aware of and take preventative steps to make their homes safer to navigate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults ages 65 and older fall each year. Falls are the most frequent cause of injury in the elderly. Hip fractures and head trauma are common injuries caused by falls and can even be fatal. Given the severity of the injuries, fall prevention should be at the top of every caregiver’s list when it comes to senior safety.

Why do the elderly fall? There are a number of reasons, including poor eyesight, loss of balance, clutter on the floor, and decreased mobility due to age or disease just to name a few. So what can you do to reduce the likelihood of a fall? Encourage your aging loved one to stay active, which will help them maintain their balance and coordination. Install grab bars in bathrooms and put non-skid mats on the floor and in tubs, and make sure there are handrails on all stairs. Repair any flooring that is a tripping hazard, and keep floors and hallways free from clutter and electrical cords. Make sure the house is well-lit and put nightlights in hallways and bathrooms to increase visibility at nighttime. Be aware of any side effects from medications or diseases that might make your loved one dizzy or affect coordination. Keep items they use frequently close by so they don’t have to hunt all over the house for things they need. For more tips on fall prevention, visit the National Institute on Aging’s website.

Visit our blog next week for part two of Taking Senior Safety Seriously!

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