Home accidents are common as one advances in age. When accidents happen at home, the elderly person may be in their own company, which means that they may not be able to get immediate help. As a result, many elderly people seek care in nursing homes as they age.
That being said, it is possible to accident proof your home and make it safer for your elderly family member(s). First, though, here are some other things to take into account.
Why Accident Proof Your Home?
When a young couple is buying or constructing a house, they rarely take into account old age and its implications. They don’t even consider the possibility that they may be living on their own when the time comes. Consequently, most homes are not designed to accommodate the realities of old age and failing health.
Some of the negative changes that may come with old age include:
- Diminishing or loss of vision
- Diminishing strength
- Limited mobility
- Empty nest
- Increased bowel movements
- Chronic illnesses
- Increased dependence on medications
All these changes point to one thing; an increased likelihood for accidents. Unfortunately, seniors take a longer time to recover from accidents, which means that they should be avoided at all costs.
Accident proofing will help prevent injuries and save on the costs of aging in place.
Benefits of Aging in Place
A recent survey showed that 65% of adults aged 65 and older would prefer to age in their homes. Aging in a nursing home allows the elderly person 24-hour access to care, but there are many benefits of aging in place, including:
- It improves the elderly person’s physical and mental health
- It allows family members to take part in caring for their elderly family member
- It gives the elderly person independence
- It allows the person to enjoy familiar surroundings and routines
- It’s usually cheaper than a nursing home
Common Elderly Accidents to Consider
Below are some of the accidents that impact the elderly most often. Consider these when accident proofing your home.
Falls are among the leading causes of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in adults aged 65 and older, as they make up 75% of their injuries. Common causes of house falls include the following:
- Slippery and wet floors
- Uneven floor surfaces
- Unstable furniture
- Poor lighting
- Cluttered floors
- Steep staircases
One way to avoid staircase falls is to install side rails or stairlifts. Falls in the bathroom can be prevented by adding anti-skid mats, and if the floor of your house is slippery you might want to consider replacing the whole floor. Although that sounds expensive, the cost of treating a fracture or break from a fall is bound to be even more costly.
Additionally, consider replacing regular shoes with anti-skid soles, as shoes with a firm grip will reduce the likelihood of a fall significantly. You should also keep your floors clean and ensure that your home is adequately lit at all times of the day.
Fires and Burns
Fires and burns occur frequently in homes where seniors are working in their own kitchens. This can be due to malfunctioning heating devices, forgetfulness, or falls.
To prevent fires, you can do a couple of things:
- Install anti-scald devices on sinks and tubs
- Install smoke detectors
- Improve lighting
- Install fire extinguishers
Food poisoning is a serious concern for elderly people who cook for themselves. They are likely to forget to read food labels accurately or use ingredients that are not fresh. The elderly are also more prone to choking incidents.
To prevent such accidents, food containers should be accurately labelled, and expiration dates should be clearly indicated as well.
These are some of the most common accidents that affect elderly people aging at home, and they can be avoided through accident proofing. By proofing your home, you will not only save on treatment costs, but you will also make it possible for the elderly person to age happily in place.