Safety around the home is one of the most important items that Circle of Friends Home Care assesses when in a senior clients place of residence. There are many things we recommend to our clients with the long term goal of allowing them to maintain their independence at home and prevent injuries. During the winter, fire safety is especially important as the use of various heat sources increases the risk for fire. Here is an article from www.seniorslist.com that has some helpful ways you can keep your home safe and prevent accidents.
According to several recent studies, over 1/3 of falls at home occur in the bedroom, and most home fires originate in the bedroom. The majority of fatal fires occur while the residents are sleeping. Since the elderly spend about a third of their time in the bedroom, it is extremely important to correct bedroom safety hazards and take preventive measures to help avoid potentially life-altering disasters.
- Lighting: Provide a light which is easy to operate within comfortable reach of bed . Install a light switch at entrance to room. Use nightlights, especially in pathway from bed to bathroom. Have a working flashlight and your eyeglasses at the bedside.
- Walkways: remove all clutter, electrical cords, phone cords and protruding furniture from pathways, especially from bed to bathroom. Remove throw rugs or secure to floor with double sided tape.
- Bed height: Adjust bed to normal height for safe, easy access. To minimize dizziness, sit at the edge of the bed for a minute or two before slowly standing up.
- Communication: Install bedside telephone and attach list of emergency numbers in large print.
- Provide sturdy chair with arms for dressing and sitting activities.
- Install working smoke alarms on every level of home and immediately outside of bedroom.
- Never smoke in bed and do not use candles! Smoking in bed is the number one cause of fire in seniors’ homes.
- Close the bedroom door when you go to bed. If there is a fire, this will slow it down.
- Avoid going to sleep with a space heater operating, as this is the number two cause of fire in seniors’ homes.
Besides the above environmental issues, there are other ways to help minimize your risk of falls at home:
- Stay active physically; walking for exercise is an excellent way to keep your lower extremities strong and improve balance. Your neighborhood senior center may have exercise classes for stretching, strengthening and balance. Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program to be sure it is okay.
- Avoid alcohol, especially if you are taking medications.
- Keep your mind active: Doing crossword puzzles, reading, playing cards and board games with friends are all great ways to help keep you oriented and more equipped to deal with everyday issues and emergency situations. There are even programs available in the marketplace which can significantly improve your memory and mental acuity, leading to greater independence and safety.
It doesn’t take much modification to significantly reduce risks of falling and fire in the bedroom. It could mean the difference between remaining independent versus requiring long term care or succumbing to premature death.