Safety at Home—Next Steps
You’ve reduced trip and fall hazards in the home. Now what?
Make yourself fall-resistant.
- Banisters and rails are helpful, but when they are absent, there’s no substitute for a sturdy cane, quad cane, or walker. Keep them on hand and use them.
- Make sure shoes are safe and snug with slip-resistant soles—not slippers, clogs, or loose sandals.
- Schedule a “falls risk assessment” with a healthcare provider which will determine risk for an accident and offer personal safety tips and advice.
- Exercise! To any extent possible, participate in walking and posture/balance programs like yoga and Tai Chi. In fact, Tai Chi has been proven to substantially reduce the risk of falls, and it’s a non-impact activity that almost anyone can do. But even just walking or upper body strengthening can help reduce fall hazards. Healthcare providers can help determine the appropriate level of activity for the patient.
Now we can address other home hazards:
- Push-to-call medical alert systems can work well to keep an accident from becoming a crisis. There are many options to choose from, including land line and cellular-based, with and without monitoring, and automatic fall sensing.
- Keep a list emergency numbers, large and easy to read, where it can easily be found.
Put copies in the beside drawer, in the kitchen (on the fridge, perhaps), and near the front door. The list should include:
- Police (local precinct, as well as 911)
- Poison control (national number is 800-222-1222)
- Family members, friends and neighbors who can assist in an emergency
- Medical emergency numbers (physician, hospital, ambulance service, and pharmacy)
- Reduce the risk of fire or burns by making sure smoke detectors are installed and have fresh batteries. Keep home exits clear, make sure space heaters aren’t near flammable items such as curtains or tablecloths. Don’t overload outlets or extension cords.
- Kitchens are a high-risk area. Seniors who cook for themselves should not wear loose clothing over the stove, and be careful around heavy pots, boiling water, hot fat and open flames. Keep pot handles turned to the side, not hanging over the edge of the stove. If something spills on the kitchen floor, wipe it up immediately to avoid falls.
- Elderly smokers must be very careful not to smoke in bed or accidentally drop cigarettes or hot ashes on clothing or upholstery. Caregivers should assess these risks and persuade seniors to change dangerous smoking habits.
- Make sure the hot water heater is set for a safe temperature: While previous recommendations for 120-degree water were intended to prevent scalding, Legionaire’s disease bacteria survive and grow at this temperature. Set water heaters for at least 130 degrees for the best balance of disease prevention and scald risk reduction.
Next month: hazardous chemicals and dangerous people.
Contact us today for more information.