Advancements in medicine have contributed to us living longer-healthier lives, and now more than ever, many people are healthy enough to live independently well into their twilight years. However, as we age, changes to our bodies necessitate that we take some safety precautions around the house that were not necessary before. For example, older bodies naturally begin to lose some core strength, making it more difficult to keep balance and increasing chances of falling. Making a few small changes around the house can make it a safer place for you.
- Purchase a medical alert system. This guarantees that even if you are home alone, you will have instant access to medical assistance should you need it.
- Inspect your entire home for any possible tripping hazards, such as throw rugs, frayed carpeting, broken tile flooring, or loose electrical cords and remove or fix those items.
- If your staircase is not carpeted, you should carpet it to provide more traction when you are walking in socks. If you don’t already have handrails that run the entire length of your staircase, on both sides, install them. You should also make sure that all staircases are well lit.
- Place a nightlight in your bathroom so you can easily find the light switch in the middle of the night. Make your tub skid-proof by using a bath mat with a non-slip bottom. Consider installing grab bars in shower, tub, and near the toilet that you can use for stability. Install locks in your bathroom doors that can be opened from both sides, in case of an emergency.
- Set up a schedule to regularly check the batteries in your medical alert buttons, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors and replace them when needed. This should be done every six months at minimum.
- In the kitchen, make sure all work areas are well lit. Avoid wearing any long or loose clothing when you are cooking on your stovetop. Consider purchasing a tea kettle with an automatic shut off to prevent an unintended fire. Make sure sharp knives are properly stored in a wooden block to prevent unintended cuts. To go easy on your back, store any heavy objects at waist level rather than overhead or on the floor.
Make sure the areas in your home where you store and take your medication are well lit. Remember to double check the labels on all medication bottles before taking your allotted dose. Be sure to dispose of any medication which has expired.