Every February, the U.S. celebrates National Senior Independence Month, a month dedicated to helping senior citizens find ways to live fulfilling and joyful lives while retaining their independence and staying safe in their homes. As we age, it becomes harder to get around, our bodies become more susceptible to injury and we require more help to accomplish everyday tasks, sometimes resulting in a feeling of lost independence. This article will help outline some simple tips we can take to help keep the senior citizens in our lives safe.
Common Hazards for Senior Citizens at Home
While our homes are often thought of as our safe havens, as we age, things can change. Everyday tasks like going up or down the stairs can become hazardous and create a cause for concern. Here are some of the most common safety hazards for senior citizens at home.
Trip and Fall Risks
When people age, they tend to fall, due to a variety of factors like loss of balance, tripping over cords and not being able to safely ascend or descend stairs. Unfortunately, falling can be even more dangerous if it happens in their home and nobody is there to help them up. In fact, 55% of fall injuries in older adults happen in the home and over 25% of adults aged 65+ will fall each year.
On average, residential fires injure over 3,000 senior citizens a year, resulting in thousands of emergency room visits. As we age, our reflexes slow and our skin thins, leaving us even more susceptible to burns and other fire-related injuries, making fire safety even more important.
Over 90% of seniors report that they take at least one daily medication and some of them even take up to 10 a day. As cognitive function declines, it becomes easier for senior citizens to mix up their medications. Common mix ups include taking too much medication or taking them in the wrong order, which can result in accidental poisoning. One way to help prevent this from occurring is to make sure all medications are labeled and color coordinated, making them harder to mix up.
Senior citizens may forget to turn off appliances, which if left unattended, can cause electrical fires. Additionally, lighting can become an issue for seniors as their eyesight declines, making it important to have the proper lighting installed for them. As a rule of thumb, senior citizens should not be installing their own lighting fixtures to reduce the risk of falling or accidental electrocution.
Home Modifications for Seniors
As we’ve established, the home can be a dangerous place for senior citizens, but there are steps that can be taken to mitigate that danger and create a safer environment for seniors, while still allowing them to maintain their independence.
Install Grab Bars and Handrails
Installing grab bars and handrails around the house is a great step to help seniors stay safe while preserving their independence. Think about installing grab bars and handrails in areas where they are likely to lose their balance, like near stairs, the shower, the bathtub, the toilet and exit and entry points around the home.
Add Non-slip Flooring
Non-slip flooring is another great addition to help keep seniors safe. There are products that allow you to simply coat the existing flooring with a non-slip coat, allowing the home to maintain its current aesthetic while upgrading its safety features. The cost to install non-slip flooring varies on a number of factors, but you can expect to spend at least $2.70 per square foot. This small investment can pay off in the long run and even save lives.
As people age, their eyesight and ability to pick up on light tends to decrease. This can lead to things like falling, reduced depth perception and fire hazards. One way to combat this is by installing improved lighting throughout the house to help senior citizens maintain their ability tosee.
Benefits of a Regular Preventive Home Maintenance for Seniors
One way to help keep senior citizens safe and allow them to age in place is to schedule regular preventive maintenance inspections. Services like Air Quality Testing, Radon Testing, IR Scans, Sewer Scope Inspections, and Mold Testing can help improve the quality of life for seniors while creating a safer living environment. These services can also address maintenance concerns and can address safety concerns that seniors may not even know are there.
Having a certified, trained and insured inspector come in and look at the home can also provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind knowing they are safe in their homes, and you are doing everything you can to protect them. If you have a senior citizen close to you, we encourage you to schedule a regular preventive maintenance to help keep them safe and allow them to age safely in their home.
Senior citizens are valued members of our society and it’s important we do everything we can to allow them to age safely while retaining their independence. Installing minor safety upgrades around the home in addition to a regular Home Maintenance Inspection can help accomplish that mission, while providing peace of mind knowing the senior citizen in your life can remain independent in a safe manner. To schedule your home maintenance inspection, please reach out to your local WIN Home Inspector.