Seniors are involved in more than 2.3 million accidents in their homes each year. While many seniors prefer to live independently, most homes are poorly designed to meet their needs. Approximately 7,000 adults 65 and older die in such accidents annually. Falls are the number one safety risk for older adults – nearly one third of the senior population falls each year with 70% of falls occurring at home. Older adults need to take extra safety precautions due to physical changes that occur during the aging process, such as declining vision, hearing, sense of touch and smell, and bone density loss. These factors increase the risk of injury inside the home.
What can you do to reduce the risk of injury for yourself or your loved one? “Therapists provide treatment to older adults to increase their safety at home,” says Robert Clark, PT, DPT, GCS, Director of Education and Development at Ascend Rehab, which provides therapy services for all CareOne facilities. “Treatment may include strengthening, balance training, energy conservation techniques, ambulation training with and without assistive devices on various surfaces and stairs, and re-training in safe bathing and dressing in various positions. Therapists also provide recommendations for a safe home environment.” Home safety tips are part of the discharge planning process at CareOne facilities and often include home visits to assess safety issues prior to discharge. Typical safety recommendations range from general to room-specific with a focus on reducing the number of accidents that occur within the home.
Here are the top 10 home safety tips every senior and caregiver should know:
- Remove all scatter rugs, repair frayed carpet, tape or tack down loose carpet edges.
- Arrange furniture to allow adequate space for safe walking between and within all rooms.
- When using oxygen, do not smoke or use an open flame.
- Do not overload circuits – unplug appliances when not in use.
- Wear close-fitting sleeves to prevent spills and burns that could happen with loose, long sleeves.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- Use a step stool or reacher to reach high shelves – do not stand on chairs or stools.
- Place safety strips or a non-skid mat in bathtub/shower and install grab bars – do not use soap dishes or towel racks for support when sitting or standing.
- Keep closet doors and drawers closed to prevent bruises or tripping.
- Keep walking aids within reach and keep a nightlight on or flashlight within reach of your bed.
For more information about outpatient therapy services at a CareOne facility near you, please call 1-877-99-CARE1 (22731).