A safe home is a place without dangerous hazards and is the product of careful design and planning. It can be an environment where we live, work, or play and delivers benefits to older adults and their loved ones alike.
As individuals approach old age, they become more susceptible to accidents that might result in serious injury or death. Safe home environments are designed to reduce these occurrences, allowing seniors the right to continue independent living in the homes that they have grown accustomed to. A safe home reduces accidents by eliminating hazards before fatalities occur.
Right Design and Planning
The right design and planning can keep an individual safe without taking away their independence. It is common knowledge that falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults, accounting for approximately 3 million emergency room visits per year(Center For Disease Control).
One out of three seniors will fall each year, causing serious problems like broken hips or fractures that may result in hospitalization or even death. The most dangerous places in the home are the bathroom and the stairs. Even though 90 percent of senior falls occur in just these two areas, they’re usually preventable with safety modifications and proper design and planning.
Attach Non-Slip Mat and Grab Bars
Household hazards such as slippery floors, poor lighting, cluttered surfaces, or items on the floor can be prevented by using non-slip mats and grab bars that attach to walls or at the ends of tubs. Remove clutter from flat surfaces like tables and dressers because seniors may not realize it is there or have a hard time seeing it.
In many homes, hallways are long and narrow, which can make them more difficult to navigate, especially if stairs are involved. Many seniors rely on walls to guide them when they walk, so make sure the hallways don’t have anything that might obstruct them or cause them to fall.
Lighting is another key safety feature in the home since darkness can also be a hazard for people who tend to stumble or trip. Putting nightlights in important areas like bathrooms and hallways can help keep your senior loved one safe even while they’re navigating their home at night.
Good Indoor Air Quality
Your safe home should have a fresh, clean scent and a decreased amount of dust or pollen. This can be accomplished by using air purifiers and having simple house cleaning routines. If there is a pet, you will want to make sure that their fur does not accumulate around the area because it can cause allergies which also affects the health of your senior loved one. Additionally, certain smells can trigger memories that affect cognitive function, especially for people who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
You may want to use scented flowers, perfumes, or oils for aromatherapy. Allergens can also affect safe home environments for seniors by triggering asthma attacks and breathing difficulties. Pets are more of a health risk than you think because of the allergens they carry into homes that accumulate on their fur, even if they’re bathed regularly. Indoor plants can act as natural air purifiers and help make your senior loved one feel more at ease in their home.
Aside from non-slip mats and grab bars, it’s important to cover electrical outlets when they aren’t being used, which prevents seniors from putting their hands into them by mistake or falling into them because of poor eyesight. Additionally, avoid areas in the house with loose rugs or cords that people may trip over.
Another hazardous factor common in commercial buildings is a gas called radon. Radon is a natural gas that occurs in nature, but it poses a significant health risk. It is odorless and colorless and can increase the chances of lung cancer. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. You can take steps to protect your family by getting your home tested for radon and working with a professional who has experience in radon mitigation if you decide to remove the gas.
Fortunately, there are skillful people certified in radon testing and providing radon mitigation system installation to remove the gas even before it enters your home if there is anything detected.
If you think your senior loved one’s current house is hazardous, get an expert to help with an evaluation of the home. Then, create a plan of action that involves all household members, including teens, children, or even older adults who are healthy enough to contribute. A professional may help get this process started, but everyone involved must take responsibility for making sure it gets done, especially if it will make the home safer for your elderly loved one.
Safeguard your senior loved one from the cold with insulation that prevents excessive heat loss, such as heating systems that turn on automatically or at a certain temperature. They will also benefit from wearing warm clothing when they go outside to prevent hypothermia, which is another serious issue among seniors. Senior homes should be kept between 68-74 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to control humidity levels and maintain good air quality for indoor plants.
The goal of emergency readiness is to ensure that seniors are prepared for emergencies before they take place so they don’t become a problem in the first place. First aid kits are a good idea to keep in the home to provide quick aid if injuries or emergencies occur. You can also purchase medical alert systems that allow seniors to call for help in an emergency.
Home security systems will give your loved one peace of mind because it allows them to be alerted when someone is trying to break into their house and make it much harder for criminals intent on harming your senior loved one. It’s also important to establish emergency plans with all family members and friends and ensure they know how they can contact each other during an emergency.
Planning the right kind of changes will keep your senior loved ones healthy while promoting their happiness in familiar surroundings. Many companies provide products related to healthcare management. You can do some research online or visit a local home improvement center to find out how they can help you create a better living space.