Independent Living Safety Tips for Seniors

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As people age they become more susceptible to accidents and injuries.   We all want to live independently and not have our daily activities interrupted, but the fact of the matter is that extra precautions need to be taken.

Many experience considerable decline in their physical capabilities as young as 65 years old. It is also estimated that about 1 out of 4 elderly Americans, age 70 and older, are already experiencing some degree of decline in their mental capabilities as well.  This makes the elderly vulnerable to both accidents and scams.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help protect the elderly from the perils that come with old age.  Here are great safety tips for seniors.

Falls are the leading cause of death and serious injuries among people age 65 and older.  Follow these tips to help reduce the chance of a fall happening.

  • Make sure there are no tripping or slip hazards in the home.  Small area rugs need to be secured with a non-slip liner.  Also make sure small items are removed from any walkways.  Something as simple as a magazine stand can become a trip hazard.
  • Wear non-slip shoes always.  Socks and even bare feet cannot provide the same level of grip that a rubber soled shoe can.
  • Install grab bars in all bathrooms.  Both in the shower and near the toilet.  Showers and bathtubs also need to have non-slip mats on the floors and around the drains.
  • Rising slowly after eating, sitting or lying down can help avoid dizziness and loss of balance.
  • Make sure all stairs have handrails and are all tightly secured.  It is also a good idea to have a light switch at the top and bottom of all staircases.
  • Consider installing a stair lift chair if climbing stairs is becoming difficult.
  • If there are raised areas of the floor between rooms or in doorways, it is a good idea to paint them a bright color so they are easily seen.
  • Make sure all rooms are adequately illuminated.
  • Consider a medical alert system.
  • Exercise is the best defense against falls and muscle loss.  Even if you cannot stand, you can still exercise in a chair.  If you are severely prone to falls, you may want to consider wearing hip pads.

The kitchen is probably the most dangerous room in the house.  More accidents happen there than all other rooms combined!  Here are some great tips for the elderly when using the kitchen.

  • As with all rooms, make sure the smoke detectors are working.
  • Make sure there is a small fire extinguisher easily accessible.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking on the stove. Make sure the stove and oven are kept clean, and never leave the stove unattended.
  • Use a microwave instead of a stove.  They are much, much safer to use.
  • Store items that are used frequently on lower shelves in the kitchen.  If they need to use a step stool to reach an item, make sure they have a bar to hold onto.
  • Buy groceries that require minimal prep time.  The fewer items you must cut or cook, the less chance there is of an accident or injury.  For example, buy a salad kit rather than all the ingredients to make a salad.  Local grocers and delis have plenty of ready-to-go dinner options as well.

Medications can also pose danger to the elderly if forgotten or misused.  Here are some tips to help manage medications.

  • Use a weekly/daily pill organizer to help keep track of what pills still need to be taken.  This can drastically reduce the chance of overdosing.
  • Check prescription expiration dates on all medications.  Some medications are very time sensitive and may have a short shelf life.
  • Unless in an organizer, keep medications in their original container.
  • Keep doctor and emergency numbers clearly posted around the house in case of a medical emergency.

Unfortunately, there are criminals that love to preyon the elderly.  They are often very trusting and sometimes unable to make good decisions.  Here are a few things to help prevent criminals from taking advantage.

  • Do not keep large sums of money or valuables in the house.  Keep it in a bank of safety deposit box.
  • Shred all sensitive paperwork and documents.  Do not just throw them into the trash.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked securely.
  • Install a monitored home security system.  Being able to check in on an elderly person with surveillance cameras can provide piece of mind that everything is ok.  It can also provide the fastest response in case of fire or another emergency.
  • Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Limit their spending capabilities and have email alerts sent for any transactions they make with a debit or credit card.

Though life may create more challenges as we grow older, none are too great that can’t be tackled with awareness and a little ingenuity.  We hope the tips we shared will help protect beloved seniors everywhere.

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