Common Senior Safety Issues at Home
Decreased mobility and declining health are unfortunate effects of the aging process, and the factors listed below should be kept in mind when considering how to modify your house for yourself or a loved one.
Mobility and Accessibility
Perhaps no issue is more important than ensuring that elderly residents can access anything in the home that they’ll need. For example, a person with limited mobility may not be able to navigate stairs safely and require ramps or lifts.
What if your loved one drops their phone or another important object behind or beneath the couch? Will necessary mobility equipment (walkers, wheelchairs, etc.) fit through doorways? Can your loved one reach food, medicine, or other items on higher shelves? Are important systems and appliances, such as your air conditioning and water heater, in good working condition? Thinking through the needs of daily life becomes very important when preparing your home.
Anyone of any age can trip and fall, but falls can be life-or-death for some senior citizens. A recent study in The Journal of Trauma showed that a minor ground-level fall was three times more likely to result in death for adults aged 70 and over than for the general population. Chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and osteoporosis, make falls much more dangerous for older adults and any injuries will take longer to heal and have lasting consequences.
Though the majority of falls—even in elderly adults—don’t result in serious injury, some senior citizens come to fear falling so much that they refuse to participate in activities they once enjoyed. This can decrease the quality of life and eliminate much-needed exercise, so it’s important to create a home environment that’s as safe as possible.
While you can never completely eliminate fall risks, doing as much as you can to reduce falls has both physical and mental benefits.
Natural Disasters and Fire Safety
Events that would be catastrophic for anyone, including natural disasters and fires, can be especially dangerous to aging parents and seniors who have limited mobility and may not be able to escape a dangerous situation as quickly as others. It’s important to have all of the appropriate alarms and emergency plans in place prior to these events. Communication is also vital for those who don’t drive and may not be able to evacuate on their own.
Fortunately, Americans who are 65 and older are the least likely of all age groups to be the victims of either violent crimes or property crimes, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, many elderly adults still worry about being unable to protect themselves and their homes from would-be criminals. Again, peace of mind is highly important to a senior’s quality of life, so making every effort to guard one’s home is worth the time and effort.