When a couple is preparing for the birth of a new baby, they often go through steps to ensure the safety within their home, “baby proofing” it. In the beginning, much of the baby’s life will be spent on the floor, so electrical cords are hidden out of reach and cabinets with dangerous chemicals may be locked up. As the child grows the parents continue to take necessary precautions, removing dangerous knives from countertops, putting up new gates and restricting boundaries further. As our seniors grow older they too become progressively more at risk of injury from everyday household items. But like a child, they may not realize the danger until it’s too late.
The following are some common dangers found in many households and simple solutions.
Loose rugs/carpets and electrical cords can easily pose a tripping hazard. Corners of carpet can often be taped or tacked to the floor to prevent curling and slipping. Loose cords should never run across an open floor. Tuck them behind or under furniture or run them along a wall.
Lack of safety bar in shower or tub can be the difference between a close call and a serious injury! Safety bars are particularly important when your loved one has to step over the edge of the bath tub to get in the shower. They can readily be found in many home improvement stores, however, it’s best to let a professional install it for you to be certain it’s in the best location and will hold weight.
Poor lighting may not be an obvious danger but many elderly are already having a hard enough time seeing in daylight. Replacing low wattage bulbs with higher will help. Compact fluorescent bulbs gradually become brighter for those who hate the blinding “high-watt-shock.”
Spoiled food in the refrigerator can mean a trip to the emergency room. Clean out the fridge for them whenever possible and encourage seniors to put dates on leftovers. On the other hand, you’ll also want to make sure their food supply is not running low.
No “life alert” or other pendant emergency-alert system -self explanatory. These really do save lives!
Have fire extinguisher! Especially for those suffering from Alzheimer’s who may forget to put out a candle or leave something burning in the kitchen.
Lots of clutter/furniture makes mobility difficult. Keep things as simple as possible and be sure there are clear paths to each room of the house.
You may want to pick a day to go through the entire house and “elderly proof” it. Follow up each time you visit by doing a quick check. As they age, you will no doubt need to take further precautions.
Feel free to share your elderly proofing tips below or on our Caregiver Forum!