Home Safety for Independent Seniors
Home is often considered a safe haven where we can unwind and relax. We often think that it is one of the safest places that we can be – where we are in control. We don’t usually think about the hidden dangers that may be lurking in our homes, but it’s important to consider. While home safety is important for those of any age, it is especially important for seniors, as an unsafe home could impact a senior’s independent lifestyle. These hidden dangers and the resulting accidents most often occur in the kitchen and, not surprisingly, the bathroom.
According to Edward Toy, Director of Sales and Marketing at Lions Gate, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Voorhees, New Jersey, it’s important to take steps to make the home as safe as possible, which starts with preventing danger at the source. “When seniors are living independently, it’s important that we make considerations based on their current abilities and their future abilities,” says Ed. “Your loved one may be able to use stairs safely right now, may not be prone to falls and might have no issues with memory at the moment, but it’s important to think about their needs in the future as well as right now. You may need to make adaptations in the home in order to keep your loved one as independent as possible for as long as they are able and to keep any accidents from occurring.”
SENIOR SAFETY IN THE KITCHEN
Independent seniors may still like to cook their own dinners or hold family get togethers, as in their past the kitchen was most likely a space for entertaining, socializing and learning traditional family recipes. Adapting the kitchen to meet their needs can help improve its usability as seniors age. When evaluating the safety of the kitchen in your loved one’s home, consider the following list from AARP® and follow these tips:
- Decrease fire hazards. As with any kitchen, make sure that a smoke detector is present in the kitchen and always make sure there is a fire extinguisher close to the stove. Teach your loved one how to use one if they do not know how, so they can easily put a fire out should one occur. Ensure that paper towels, napkins and dish towels are stored away from the stove, as well as any other flammable items.
- Prevent falls. Make sure there is adequate lighting around all work areas, as this can help to reduce the risk of falls. Keep cords off of the floor and out of the way and ensure any rugs are slip or trip proof. Ensure the floor is not too slippery and place a non-slip rug in front of the sink in case water spills.
- Keep things within reach. Objects such as pots and pans are often stored in lower cupboards, while cups and plates are often stored in higher shelves. Adapt storage in order to make sure the most-used items are well within reach so your loved one does not have to bend over or use a step-stool they could potentially fall off of.
- Adjustments with aging. If, as your loved one ages, they begin to have more trouble opening cupboards or would prefer to sit down while preparing dinner, you may need to install different handles and adjust the height of the countertops in order to make it easier for them to continue comfortably cooking and using the kitchen.
HOME SAFETY MEASURES FOR THE BATHROOM
As the most common room in the home where senior accidents occur, it is important to focus on how to increase the amount of safety to ensure your loved one’s well-being. Try following these tips from AARP to increase the level of bathroom safety:
- Adapt for ease of use. Make sure that your loved one will not have any trouble getting in and out of the shower. Grab bars should be installed in the bathtub, in the shower and around the toilet. Place non-slip mats in the shower to keep your loved one from falling and consider purchasing a removable showerhead to make it easier for them to shower. It may also be a good idea to buy a toilet seat extender if your loved one has trouble getting on and off of the toilet.
- Ensure floors aren’t slippery. While this is a common problem in the kitchen, this is even more common in the bathroom thanks to the shower. Make sure there are non-slip rugs that do not fold up around the edges just outside of the shower. As AARP states, rubber-backed mats are the best, as they stay in place.
- Make sure it’s bright enough. Just like the kitchen, it is important that it is bright enough in the bathroom. Make sure that there is a light near the shower, toilet and sink. At night, make sure there is a night light that will help your loved one find their way in the dark.
- Adjust temperatures of water. The sink and shower water can very easily get hot and scald the skin. Check to make sure that the hot water heater is set at 120 degrees and consider placing an anti-scald sensor to ensure your loved one does not get burned.
Many of these home safety measures are quick fixes that cost very little. Many home safety products can be bought at hardware stores or wherever home improvement products are sold. For more resources on home adaptations, visit www.aarp.org.
REHABILITATION AND HOME EVALUATIONS WITH LIONS GATE
If your loved one happens to have a fall or other accident while at home, you can trust Lions Gate to get them back on their feet in no time. The STARR – Short-Term Advanced Rehabilitation and Recovery – program, we not only provide individualized plans of care, but we also increase mobility upon discharge, reduce hospital readmission rates and ensure a smooth transition home with home to keep your loved one independent and at home longer.
To learn more about Lions Gate’s STARR program, call or visit us today.
EXPERIENCE LIFESTYLE, CARE, COMMUNITY AND TRADITION AT LIONS GATE
Lions Gate, located in Voorhees, NJ, offers a continuum of lifestyle and care options rooted in Jewish traditions and values. Whether you are in need of Independent Living,Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing or Rehabilitation Services, Lions Gate has you covered.
Our mission at Lions Gate is to enrich the lives of those we serve through quality and compassionate care consistent with our heritage and values. We strive to provide programs and services that inspire well-being, as well as social, cultural and spiritual independence.
As a full-service community rich in wellness programs, meaningful experiences and educational opportunities from Lions Gate University, Lions Gate allows residents to connect with those who share their interests and cherished traditions. Our goal is to provide residents with an active, worry-free lifestyle filled with ways to connect with others, pursue their passions and be engaged in everyday life. While we focus on Jewish customs and traditions, we welcome people of all faiths to the Lions Gate family.
Through our affiliation with Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, we also offer three senior living communities for those with limited incomes.