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July 22, 2016

Home Safety Tips for Seniors Who Live Alone

home safety tips for seniors

Seniors have more choices than ever when it comes to assisted living, from luxurious retirement communities to cozy “granny flats” with unlimited access to beloved grandchildren. But many seniors want to stay in their own homes as long as possible, and in-home is a great way to get help with daily tasks while still maintaining a sense of independence.

If you or a loved one prefers to live at home and doesn’t require round-the-clock care, it’s important to be aware of potential dangers and prepare accordingly. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe:

Tip 1: Keep emergency numbers handy

Emergency numbers that should be kept in large, easy-to-read print next to the phone include: 911, Poison Control (1-800-222-1222), a family member or friend designated as an emergency contact, and your primary doctor’s office. Medical alert systems are another option, providing one-touch access to emergency personnel through an intercom on a bracelet or necklace.

Tip 2: Remove falling hazards

Make sure all hallways, stairs, and primary pathways through the home are well lit and clear of clutter (shoes, stray electrical cords, etc.), and tape area rugs to the floor so they don’t shift. In the bathroom, install non-slip floor mats and safety bars in the showers, and if mobility is an issue, consider assistive devices such as tub chairs and raised toilet seats. Other mobility equipment such as walkers and power scooters can help as well.

Tip 3: Avoid bathroom/kitchen hazards

Even when not including the risk of falling, bathrooms and kitchens can be injury magnets. Be sure to set the thermostat on the water heater no higher than 120° F to prevent scalding and clearly mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances with bright colors. It’s also a good idea to use a kettle with an automatic shut-off, store sharp knives in a rack, make sure expiration dates on food are checked regularly, and store heavy items at waist level.

Tip 4: Protect against fire

Smoke alarms are crucial to saving lives, so test alarms regularly and replace batteries every six months. If you use space heaters, make sure they are at least 3 feet away from curtains, bedding, or anything that could burn, and turn them off when you leave the room. Also, replace appliances with frayed or damaged cords and don’t wear loose clothing or long sleeves when cooking. In the event of a fire, know ahead of time at least two ways to escape your home.

Tip 5: Prevent poisoning

No matter how cozy our homes may seem, they are filled with poison hazards:

  • Carbon monoxide: Install detectors near all bedrooms (and replace batteries twice a year), and never attempt to heat your home with your stove, oven or grill because they emanate the deadly gas that cannot be seen or smelled.
  • Medications: Keep all medications in their original containers, ask for large-print labels if needed, dispose of any old or unused medicines, and review your medications frequently with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Cleaning products: Always store cleaning products far from food and make sure they’re labeled clearly. Also, never mix bleach, ammonia, or other cleaning liquids, which can create a deadly gas.

Tip 6: Organize check-ins

Whether on a daily or weekly basis, ask a friend, family member or neighbor to call or stop by regularly to ensure everything is okay. You can also install a lock box on your front door, which will allow trusted visitors and emergency personnel to access your home if you’re unable to reach the door.

Tip 7: Protect against abuse

Financial danger is just as important as physical danger, and in this Information Age, it’s easier than ever for scammers to take advantage of seniors living alone. That’s why you should never give out personal or financial information over the phone or Internet unless you are the one to initiate contact (with reputable companies such as your bank or pharmacy). Offline, always ask for written information about deals or prizes offered by telephone salespeople, and discuss with a friend or family member before agreeing to anything. Don’t let anyone pressure you into making purchases or donations or signing contracts, and don’t afraid to be rude and hang up on someone who seems suspicious.

Let us help you stay safe and independent

At PA Healthcare, it’s our mission to provide people in San Diego with the medical equipment needed for mobility assistance. We have wheelchairs, walkers, power scooters, rollators, patient lifts, and hospital beds, and most of our products are available to rent as well as purchase. We’ll even deliver your equipment anywhere in San Diego. Have more questions about our products or services? Give us a call today.

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