The following home safety tips for seniors can help keep you and your loved ones safe. Approximately one-third of adults age 65 years or older fall in their home each year, resulting in injury, long-term disability and premature loss of independence.
General Home Safety
- Consider a medical alert or a buddy system.
- Keep a fire extinguisher and smoke detector on every floor.
- Never smoke when alone or in bed.
- Always get up slowly after sitting or lying down. Take your time, and make sure you have your balance.
- Wear proper fitting shoes with low heels.
- Use a correctly measured walking aid.
- Remove all scatter rugs.
- Remove electrical or telephone cords from traffic areas.
- Wipe up spills promptly.
- Avoid standing on ladders or chairs.
- Have sturdy rails for all stairs inside and outside the house, or, if necessary, purchase a stairlift.
- Use only non-glare 100 watt or greater incandescent bulbs (or the LED equivalents.)
- Make sure that all staircases have good lighting with switches at top and bottom.
- Make sure that staircase steps should have a non-slip surface.
- Leave a light on in your bathroom at night.
- Use recommended bath aids, securely installed on the walls of the bath/shower stall and on the sides of the toilet.
- Skid-proof the tub and make sure the bathmat has a non-slip bottom.
- To avoid scalds, turn water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Mark cold and hot faucets clearly.
- Use door locks that can be opened from both sides.
- If possible, bathe only when help is available.
- Keep floors clean and uncluttered.
- Illuminate work areas.
- Mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances clearly and with bright colors.
- Store sharp knives in a rack.
- Use a kettle with an automatic shut-off.
- Store heavier objects at waist level.
- Store hazardous items separate from food.
- Avoid wearing long, loose clothing when cooking over the stove.
- Make sure food is rotated regularly and check expiration dates.
Basic Emergency Items for Seniors
Keep these items in a clearly labeled container so they can be easily found and used in case of an emergency. A battery-powered radio – make sure to note which stations provide information in case of a disaster.
- Two battery or solar-powered flashlights. There are also flashlights that can be powered with hand cranks so batteries are not necessary. Make sure the light is bright enough to be useful.
- Extra batteries for hearing aids, flashlights and radios.
- A first-aid kit – regularly check the contents of your kit to ensure there are no expired ointments or other items and make sure its contents are appropriate for the elderly person.
- An extra pair of glasses.
- Extra equipment or medical supplies such as wheelchair batteries or oxygen.
- Note the serial number, make and style of medical devices such as pacemakers.
- Medical insurance and Medicare cards.
- Medical alert wallet card or bracelet – something that identifies hidden medical conditions if an elderly person can’t talk.
- A list of prescription medications and dosage amounts.
- A list of the names and phone numbers of physicians and emergency contacts.
- Never try to heat your home with your stove, oven, or grill since these can give off carbon monoxide–a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell.
- Make sure there is a carbon monoxide detector near all bedrooms, and be sure to test and replace the battery two times a year.
- Keep all medications in their original containers so you don’t mix up medicines.
- Ask your pharmacist to put large-print labels on your medications to make them easier to read.
- Take your medications in a well-lit room, so you can see the labels.
- Bring all of your pill bottles with you to your healthcare provider’s appointments so he or she can look at them and make sure you are taking them correctly.