How to Make Home Safe for Parents: Elder-Proof Your Home

Seniors are prone to falls and injury. A report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission noted that 1.4 million of them are treated in emergency rooms annually.

Falls tend to be the biggest injury and accident cause for seniors, and these accidents can happen in a variety of ways.

In addition, more than eight million emergency room visits are from falls as well. Also,   60% of deaths due to fall happen most often to those who are 75 and older.

Regarding fire, seniors are said to be at higher risk to residential fires and up to three times likelier to die from it versus younger people when trapped inside the home.

In addition, careless smoking is another leading of fire deaths among people age 65 and above.  Following is heating equipment, which is the second leading cause of injury and death among seniors.

These are only some facts and statistics related to senior home safety.  Now if you’re living with a senior parent or you’re an elderly living alone, check out the following for a checklist on how to elder-proof your home.

Elder Proofing Your Home: Safety Checklist

Fire Safety Tips

Emergency room doctors believe that a yearly home inspection and safety assessment is essential in keeping seniors safe.

Fire Safety Tips

  1. Practice safe smoking. Do not smoke in bed or near medical oxygen that might explode.
  2. Have smoke alarms tested once a month. Use its test button to ensure it’s working, or get it repaired if not.  Also, make sure that you can hear the fire alarm.  If you cannot, replace it with one that has a different sound or with a strobe light or bed shaker.
  3. Have a fire escape plan before a fire occurs. Plan based on your abilities. Remember you only have less than three minutes to get out of your home in case of a fire.
  4. Do not leave the kitchen when cooking and use a timer to remember that you’re cooking.
  5. Do not overload extension cords or electrical outlets.
  6. Know the emergency number to call in case of a fire. You will need it if you cannot get out your bedroom or you’re trapped inside your home.

Bathroom Safety

  1. If you have a poor balance and having difficulty in getting into and out of the bathtub, have grab bars that you can reach easily installed. However, make sure that they’re slip-resistant to prevent accidents and injuries.
  2. Use a raised toilet seat which height can be raised by up to four inches.
  3. If possible, install a walk-in tub to prevent the risk of fall in getting into and out of the tub.
  4. Use non-slip mats so that you can go around the bathroom safely and easily. Choose mats with a non-slip surface.  And in front of the tub, shower, sink and toilet, put non-slip rugs.
  5. Have a shower chair especially if you’re finding it hard to balance your body when standing. Choose a shower chair with rubber tips on its legs to prevent it from sliding.

Kitchen Safety

Kitchen Safety

  1. Get your circuit breakers and fuse box in the kitchen checked by an electrician.
  2. Check that all the switches and outlets have their cover plates. Also, see that the extension cords aren’t overloaded.
  3. Keep the electrical cords away from stovetops, sinks and other appliances.
  4. For electrical sockets not in use, place socket covers.
  5. When not in use, make sure that appliances are unplugged.
  6. Have your range exhaust and ventilation system maintained and checked.
  7. Install a smoke detector and have a fire extinguisher in an accessible location.
  8. Hire a gas company to check that your gas stove has an auto shut off function, which is activated in the event that the pilot goes out.
  9. To avoid bumping into cabinets and drawers, close them when not in use.
  10. Also, keep the sharp utensils and knives in their storage areas to make your kitchen safe.
  11. When possible, use unbreakable dishes.
  12. Spills must be cleaned up right away to prevent falls.

Staircase Safety

  1. Mark the stair’s ends with a glow in the dark tape to identify the end of every stair.
  2. Secure the runners, rugs, and carpets to prevent stumbling and keep them from bunching up. Any slippery carpeting must also be removed.
  3. See to it that every staircase has a handrail that is nailed securely.
  4. Remove any items on the stairs to prevent falls.
  5. Keep the stairways lit whenever it is dark especially if you’re using the stairs at night.
  6. Make sure that the stairs have non-skid surfaces as well.

Bedroom Safety

Bedroom Safety

  1. To prevent your feet from being tangled, do not use draperies, bed linens and bedspreads that reach the floor.
  2. Check that the nightstands can support your weight if you need help in balancing and standing, but make sure that they’re sturdy enough to provide you with assistance.
  3. Do not use a too low or too high bed. Replace it with one that has an appropriate height.
  4. Also, see to it that no blanket or pillow is on the floor to ensure a clear walking path when getting out the bed.
  5. Whenever walking, you must wear supportive and non-skid slippers.
  6. To prevent tripping, make sure all the cords are tucked behind furniture.
  7. You should sit on the bed’s edge with both your feet on the floor before getting out of bed. Especially if living alone, you must wait a minute before standing to make sure you have a good balance and not dizzy, too.

Living Room Safety

Living Room Safety

  1. Remove excess cords because they can increase the risk of tripping.
  2. Rearrange the electronics to minimize space between the electrical outlet and the device to contain the outlets in a small space.
  3. Prevent fire hazards by minimizing the number of cords you’re plugging into an outlet. You should also ask your electrician to secure the multiple cords with Velcro straps.
  4. Do not let the cords to cross walkways or doorways.
  5. Minimize the amount of furniture in your living room for easy walkways.
  6. To prevent tripping, you must clear the floor from obstacles, including decorative items and rugs.

Final Thoughts

Elder proofing your home is one of the best ways to keep an elderly parent safe and reduce his/her risk of slip and fall, which are two common causes of senior emergency room visits.   Have your home inspected – kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom, to name some – and make necessary changes to ensure it is elder-friendly.

Hope you find this safety checklist useful to elder-proof your home. You can have it bookmarked or printed out for easy reference later. Finally, share it on Facebook to help others today!