Safety becomes a primary concern for senior citizens, due to their reducing physical strength and diminishing mental alertness. Incidences such as slipping on bathroom tiles, falling off a chair, consuming hazardous substances, medication overdose or omission, and skipping medical appointments are common amongst the elderly. Accidents can result in complex multiple fractures, due to the weak and brittle bones, and even permanent disabilities. It is therefore imperative to create a safe protected environment for the elderly, by taking special measures such as home renovation, personal aids and medical alarms.
The following precautions should be taken in order to ensure senior citizen safety:
- Bathroom safety – Bathrooms are the most common places for accidents to occur, and the most dangerous as well, due to presence of hard tiles, water and electricity. The following steps are required to convert them into safe zones for the elderly.
- Since senior citizens find it difficult to maintain balance, eliminate all slippery surfaces within the bathroom. Opt for carpeted bathrooms or use non-slippery tiles, rugs and mats.
- Provide sturdy grip bars near showers, bathtub and washbasin for added support. Install tension poles on the bathroom walls to help lift oneself up.
- Install adjustable toilet seats with variable height, for ease of usage and seating, especially for physically disabled citizens.
- Install shampoo, liquid soap and conditioner dispensers on the walls, hand held showers and push-pull type bathroom faucets for ease of use.
- Stow away bathroom cleaners, inflammable and hazardous liquids in separate storage compartments. Use enlarged, legible labeling and tight secure caps.
- Kitchen safety – Kitchens contain appliances such as stoves, burners and oven and other objects such as sharp knives, breakable glass and crockery. Therefore, special care should be taken to avoid accidents.
- Keep flammable objects such as paper towels, cloth and wooden utensils away from burners. Due to weak vision and frail memory, elderly people might leave the stove on, unable to detect the flames. This can pose serious risk of skin burns and household fire.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher handy, wear fitted clothing and tight aprons.
- De-clutter your kitchen, by stashing away unnecessary items in the storage room.
- Use knives with good grip handles and sharp edges to avoid slips and unnecessary cuts.
- Keep the kitchen clean, and roll the cords of kitchen appliances into secure bundles, so that they do not come in the way of the elderly citizens.
- Rearrange items in the kitchen, so that they are easier to reach and use, such as keeping the heavy utensils in lower easy-to-reach shelves.
- Other rooms – Since the elderly people spend more time at home, it is important to make the entire house safe for their use.
- It should be easy to walk around the house with minimum obstructions. Therefore, keep books, magazines, electrical cords, furniture, tables and other appliances at the corners or edges of the room, with no items lying on the floor.
- Use non-slippery tiles or carpeting for all rooms.
- Use furniture with effective back support and height adjusted to the needs of the elderly residents.
- Use effective lighting, with sufficient brightness and ease of use, such as spotlights to help the elderly see more clearly.
In addition to the above precautions, install emergency alarms, smoke detectors, properly earthed electrical outlets, emergency exits and cordless telephones in all rooms. Taking appropriate safety precautions can help avoid unnecessary accidents and offer you immense peace of mind.