Many older adults are living independently, which can be wonderful for quality of life. However, falls, burns, and even poisonings are among the most common accidents involving elderly people at home. Older seniors living alone may also become targets for criminals. If you’re an older adult or care for an older loved one who lives alone, consider the following tips to stay safe.
- Remove throw rugs if possible (if not possible, secure them with specialty, heavy-duty, double-stick carpet tape).
- Avoid clutter like clothing, newspapers, and shoes.
- Eliminate unnecessary furniture and decorative items around the house to create a more open environment.
- Avoid having wires or extension cords go across the floor.
- Wear non-slip footwear when inside.
- Ensure good lighting throughout the home.
- Consider using assistive devices like a cane or walker for steadiness. (If using a wheelchair or walker, doorways should be at least 32 inches wide for best access).
- Ensure handrails are installed on both sides of stairways.
- Place nonslip treads on bare-wood steps.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom.
- Consider using a sturdy plastic seat for the shower with a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while seated.
Protect against fire threats
- When cooking, avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes or long, wide sleeves. Keep hair pulled back.
- Replace appliances that have fraying or damaged electrical cords.
- Avoid plugging too many electrical cords in one socket (or extension cord or surge protector).
- Make sure smoke detectors are installed, tested annually, and have batteries replaced twice a year.
- Never leave a candle burning if you leave the room, even momentarily.
- Avoid smoking in your home.
- Ensure heaters are 3 feet or further away from any flammable fabrics or objects (furniture, curtains, blankets). When you leave a room, be sure to turn space heaters off.
- Avoid using electric blankets.
- If there is a fire, do not try to put it out. Leave your home and call 911 immediately.
- Be aware of two or more ways to get out of your home.
- Do not try to heat your home with your stove, oven, or grill. These can release carbon monoxide – a deadly gas that you can’t detect by smell or sight.
- Have carbon monoxide detectors installed near all bedrooms, have them tested, and the batteries replaced twice per year.
- Ask your pharmacist to add large-print labels on your medications so they are easier to read.
- Take medication in a well-lit room.
- Adhere to the prescription’s dosage and timing.
- Make sure your healthcare provider is aware of all medications you are taking to ensure no interactions.
- Never mix bleach, ammonia, or other cleaning liquids together which can create deadly gases.
Keep emergency information accessible
- Have emergency numbers by each phone and stored in cell phones. Include numbers for: 911, Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222, family member or friend to call in case of emergency, healthcare provider’s office.
- Keep critical health information handy: stored in your purse wallet, on wearable medical jewelry, on you cell phone that can be accessible to others in an emergency.