Did you know that falls are the leading cause of death and serious injuries among people age 65 and older? We need to pay attention to finding seniors safety sweet spots. Two categories of factors contribute to these falls:
Personal factors, which include muscle weakness, balance problems, limited vision and certain medications
Seniors safety sweet spots
Environmental factors, which include home hazards such as loose rugs, poor lighting (especially on stairs) and a lack of stair railings or grab bars in the bathroom
To stay safe, pay attention to these tips and facts:
Many falls happen when you lose your balance. Exercising regularly and rising slowly after eating, sitting or lying down can help avoid dizziness and loss of balance.
Improper use and handling of medication can create serious safety concerns. Check medication expiration dates on all prescription and over-the-counter medications – and follow all directions.
Store medications in their original containers. If you must transfer medications to different containers, mark the new container clearly – and don’t forget to transfer the expiration date.
Make sure that you can open all doors and windows in your home. Locks and pins should open easily from inside. (Note that some apartment and high-rise buildings have windows designed not to open.) If you have security bars on doors or windows, they should have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened easily. These devices won’t compromise your safety, but they will enable you to open the window from inside in the event of a fire.
Keep a telephone nearby, along with emergency phone numbers so that you can communicate with emergency personnel if you’re trapped in your room by fire or smoke.
Are medications labeled and stored in their proper containers? Do you have old prescription drugs mixed in with the new? These common practices in homes pose potentially dangerous health hazards. Whereas some medications still retain their potency after expiration dates, many do not and should be disposed of. Old liquid antibiotics, drugs comprised of organic ingredients and those requiring refrigeration should be safely discarded.
Be sure to store medications in a cool, dark, dry place; the bathroom does not fit that category. A better place is an airtight plastic container on a shelf in your closet.
Trips and falls are likely to happen when you accumulate too much “stuff.” Reduce the risk by removing unnecessary and obstructive items (including furniture) from your regular walking path and place them in storage. Make maintaining a clear walkway in every room of the house or apartment a top priority. And either tape carpet edges or throw rugs to the floor or get rid of them entirely.
In the kitchen, remove infrequently used appliances off the counter, organize cabinets, create front row spaces for frequently use items, and clear out the refrigerator and pantry of stale food.
For seniors with reduced strength or mobility challenges, doing household chores may seem like a monumental task. Never try to move furniture or heavy objects on your own. Don’t stand on a chair or ladder to clean hard to reach spots or change light bulbs. Use cordless cleaning tools and lightweight equipment which are easier to use.
Prevention safety for senior citizens
Prevent unnecessary falls and improve your safety by making yourself aware of the environmental hazards. Then take action to have them corrected by:
Installing secure handrails and bright lights with switches at the top and bottom of stairways
Repairing loose or uneven steps, checking stairs for worn or loose carpeting and installing anti-slip treads
Always wearing shoes with traction and making sure throw rugs are placed over rug liners with non-skid backing so that you avoid throughout the house
Installing grab bars for the toilet, bathtub, and shower, and using non-slip mats or decals on ceramic surfaces both inside and outside the tub
Installing nightlights in areas you frequent at night. Also, consider keeping a flashlight near your bed
Storing frequently used items on lower shelves in the kitchen to limit the use of stools or stepladders. If you must use a step stool, use one with a bar to hold onto.