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How to Keep Your Aging Loved Ones Safe While Living Alone

For some people, living alone has its advantages. You have the freedom to do what you want when you want without worrying about anyone else. But living alone can also have its disadvantages, especially as we age. It’s not unusual for older people who are alone and without a steady income to find it difficult to keep up with home repairs. Many elderly parents living alone have adult children who worry about their health and safety. While independent living can bring freedom, it can also bring costly household accidents if you aren’t careful. Here are some ways you can help keep an aging loved one safe in their own home.


Clear a Path: Walking can be a challenge for some seniors. Tripping and falling can result in serious injury, so it’s important to reduce the risk of injury by clearing clear away any potential dangers on the floor. Remove all obstructions such as misplaced boxes, piles of clothes, as well as loose wires and extension cords. Also, check for areas of the carpet that may be torn to avoid trip-and-falls. You may also want to consider getting rid of throw rugs as they can bunch up easily, creating another walking hazard.

Let there be Light: Poor lighting is another household danger that requires attention. Some areas of the home that need illumination are: the bathroom, kitchen, closets, hallways and staircases. Whatever lighting you choose, make sure that the light source is easily accessible by a light switch or pull cord. Touch lights are another light source to consider as they are battery operated and can be affixed to any surface for easy access.

Repair Staircases: Staircases can also be dangerous, especially for seniors. Loose threads in the carpet, poor lighting, and unstable stair rails are all items to address for someone who lives in a multi-floor home. Simple fixes include: tightening the stair rail, cutting or securing loose carpet threads, and adding lighting fixtures to the top and bottom of the staircase.

Beware of Slippery Surfaces: The kitchen and bathroom receive a lot of traffic in the home and slippery surfaces can be a common occurrence, and may also be a common cause of injuries. Avoid an accident by installing grip bars around the tub, and non-slip rubber bath mats to reduce falls. You may also want to consider installing walk-in tubs that have doors and raised seating, if it’s in the budget. These senior friendly options make bathing and showering easy, safe and comfortable. As for the kitchen, rinsing produce and washing dishes can create a lot of splash which can end up on the floor. This is another area where a rubber mat may be useful.

Home Safety Equipment: It’s important for anyone living alone to be equipped with the proper safety precautions in case of an emergency. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as several fire extinguishers are a must-have for any home. Test these items regularly to make sure they are fully functional and not in need of a battery change. Seniors suffering from hearing loss may not always hear the detectors going off which is why new home safety technology allows emergency services to respond if any alarms are tripped. By detecting environmental hazards in the home, you can greatly reduce the risk of serious injury, even death. A home security system is another viable option for home safety. In addition to alerting the authorities if your smoke alarm goes off, these systems can also detect break-ins, keeping you safe from theft and other criminal activities.
Just because you don’t live under your parent’s roof doesn’t mean you can’t make sure they’re safe. Follow these tips for elderly parents living alone to ensure a safe living environment for your loved one.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/health/research/16stats.html?ref=health&_r=2&
http://www.idealhomegarden.com/home-improvement/elderly-home-hazards/
http://seniors.lovetoknow.com/disadvantages-elderly-people-living-alone
http://www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury/tbi_falls_results.html

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