Hidden Home Safety Risks Can Pose Dangers to the Elderly

August 26th, 2019

For seniors who want to continue living at home as long as possible, one thing that can help is to make home as safe an environment as possible. Some of the obvious safety solutions include rails, door alarms, and non-slip bathroom tiles. However, there are a number of safety risks you might not think about that can be hazardous to the elderly. This is especially true if the person faces mobility challenges. Some of these tips will be helpful to seniors who live alone, but many of them are important things to look out for if a senior lives with you or another person.

How to prevent pet-related accidents

  • Pet therapy is often beneficial to mature adults, but be sure to closely supervise a new pet. Dogs can bite, cats can scratch, and both can get underfoot and cause a fall.
  • Observe to make sure a pet isn’t causing allergy symptoms. Be sure to keep bedding clean and free of pet hair and dander.
  • Separate human products and pet products. 

How to prevent burns and scalds

  • Add safety locks to stove knobs if needed. Seniors are as susceptible to accidental burns as children, especially if they have dementia.
  • Turn the water heater to 120 degrees or lower. Many seniors aren’t as sensitive to heat, meaning they can get burned more easily. This is even more likely if they take blood thinners.
  • Install safety plugs in outlets and beware hot appliances.
  • Keep the area around any and all heaters clear at all times. Make sure not to place any items (especially fabric or clothing) on or near them.

How to promote medication safety

  • If a senior is taking multiple pills per day, you may want to help them organize it.
  • Be mindful of what medications they are taking daily. A senior may be taking too many over the counter medicines, which can be harmful, too.
  • In a worst-case scenario, you may need to lock medication away and dispense them yourself to ensure proper dosage.

How to prevent accidental chemical intake

  • Household chemicals can be dangerous if inhaled, swallowed, or mixed together. If your loved one has a weak sense of smell or taste, be extra cautious about where chemicals are stored.
  • Keep chemicals in their original containers or in containers with large print labels.
  • If you think your loved one might accidentally ingest or mix chemicals, consider keeping them in a locked cabinet.

How to prevent accidents involving sharp objects

  • Some elderly folk may have difficulty understanding how dangerous sharp objects can be. They may also think they can use them more steadily than they actually can.
  • Swapping out sharp blades for safety versions is an easy way to keep seniors safe.
  • Be mindful of other sharp objects like plant stakes that can cause injury if the person should fall.

What are your favorite safety tips?

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