Whether you’re an independent senior living alone or you have a loved one in your life who’s in that position, safety is obviously of paramount importance. Signing up for a medical alert system is a great idea, but there are other ways to prevent injuries and secure your or your loved one’s safety around the home. We’ve compiled 25 safety tips you can follow to keep yourself healthy and secure – in the bathroom, the kitchen and around the house – as well as ways to guard against home invasion.
Safety in the Bathroom
- Install grab bars in the shower and bathtub and by the toilet. Just as handrails give you stability when you climb the stairs, properly anchored grab bars can give you the leverage you need in the event of an accidental slip.
- Buy no-slip mats for your shower floor or bathtub. They’re best paired with grab bars, of course, but no-slip mats dramatically increase the traction you get in an otherwise slippery area.
- Consider a shower stool and handheld showerhead. There’s no way to fall if you’re already sitting down!
- Lay down non-skid bathmats in front of the shower and next to the sink. Wet feet are just as likely to slip on bathroom tile as in the tub. A pair of decent bathmats can wick moisture away and ensure you have plenty of traction when walking around the bathroom.
- Turn down your hot water heater to no higher than 120 degrees. This prevents scalding if you accidentally turn the hot water knob too high.
- Keep a night light on in the bathroom or leave the bathroom’s ceiling light on after dark. Nighttime toilet runs shouldn’t lead to bumps and bruises.
Safety in the Kitchen
- Wear short sleeves or tight-fitting sweaters when you work around the stove. Loose, flowing clothes are more likely to catch fire from heating elements.
- Consider upgrading your open flame or coil stove to an induction cooktop. Induction cooktops are easier to clean, the heating elements are less likely to flare up or malfunction, and you can’t accidentally leave the gas on.
- Keep pot and pan handles turned to the side, instead of pointed outward toward you. They’re easy to accidentally knock when they hang over the edge, and you don’t want to spill a pot of boiling water or a pan of hot grease all over yourself.
- As long as you don’t have a pacemaker, prefer the microwave to the oven. You can retain lots of moisture while microwaving food by getting a vented plastic cover, and it keeps the microwave clean!
- Use an electric teakettle and coffeemaker instead of a stovetop kettle. They’re simple to use and often come with automatic shutoffs.
- Check expiration dates on a regular basis. It’s easy to forget about old jars, canned goods or even fresh goods in the back of the fridge, and eating expired food is a sure path to illness. Make an afternoon of going through your pantry and weeding out old foodstuffs to save yourself from sickness down the line.
- Reorganize your cabinets so that often-used food or equipment is within reach, without the need to stretch or bend to get it. You may even find it useful to keep your dishes on a countertop rack. You can also invest in a side-by-side fridge or one with the freezer on the bottom so you don’t have to lean to reach everyday food and drinks.
Safety in Living Areas
- Mount handrails to both sides of all stairwells in your home. This includes stairs inside the house, leading up to the front or back porches, winding down into the basement, and so on.
- Install additional lighting and switches in the house so that no room or hallway is too dark. Smart lights can be controlled from a smartphone or with voice commands, or you can invest in motion-sensitive lights that turn on when you enter a room and move around.
- Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are mounted in each room and have the batteries switched out every six months. Installing fresh batteries isn’t just safe; it also keeps those annoying low-battery beeps from pestering you when you’re trying to sleep.
- Remove low-lying obstacles around the house, including flower pots, electrical cords and throw rugs – reconsider anything you might trip over or slip on.
- Exercise regularly! Strong muscles are your best defense against accidental falls.
Safety From Home Invasion
- Don’t hide your house keys anywhere close to your front door. Leaving a spare set with a trusted neighbor is usually the best idea; thieves are smart and know to check all the usual places.
- Keep all your doors locked at all times, even if you’re at home or working out in the yard. Most thieves don’t break into homes; they walk right in through unlocked entries.
- Close, latch and draw the drapes over your downstairs windows, especially windows facing the street. Not only are locked windows harder to break into, but closing your drapes keeps thieves from peering inside and seeing whether you’re home or not.
- Leave the TV on if you go out during the day. Most robberies are crimes of convenience; if a potential thief thinks someone is home, they’re much more likely to move on.
- Don’t answer the door if you don’t know the person ringing the doorbell. Home invaders sometimes masquerade as delivery or utility workers; if you’re not expecting a delivery or repair, call the agency they claim to be from and verify their identity before you open the door.
- Replace your house numbers with larger ones that are easy to see from the street. This does more than make it easier for you to find your home in a block of identical houses; it also makes it easier for authorities to find you in case of an emergency.
- Keep your local police office’s non-emergency number by your telephone. Don’t be afraid to call it if you have concerns about someone in your neighborhood, and don’t hesitate to call 911 if you don’t trust someone on your doorstep.
Senior care and safety is a concern that spreads well beyond a handful of simple around-the-house tips. Here are some other resources you might find useful in protecting yourself and the ones you love:
- How the Elderly Can Prevent Falls With These Fall Prevention Safety Tips
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Older Adult Falls Program
- Dangers of Not Correctly Following Your Medication Regimen
- Most Useful Senior Care Cost Calculators