It is inevitable – getting older is something that happens to everyone. But it can be difficult to watch an older relative become less mobile and experience problems getting around and carrying out regular tasks in their own home. In order to maintain independence, it is important to pay attention to trip and slip hazards in your relative’s home to avoid accidents and unnecessary visits to hospital. Putting the right safety measures in place can help elderly people live for longer in their own homes. Here are a few simple ways you can make home a safer place for you or your relatives.
Making Changes to the Home
1. Check your home or that of your elderly relative for potential trip hazards like rugs that bunch up or slide across the floor, carpets that are loose, or furniture that could get in the way. Have a tidy up and make sure that the rooms have clear paths within them to ensure easy access.
2. Put items that you use a lot in a convenient place so that you can easily access them without danger of falling over.
3. Check the shoes! Old slippers may be comfy but they probably have no grip and as they are misshaped they can fall off and cause a trip hazard. Invest in some well-fitting slippers with a rubber sole with grips.
4. If a relative is at risk of falls, consider a community alarm and a safe box outside the house where the keys are kept, to be accessed by a family member or care worker.
5. Improve the lighting in the living room and kitchen. A soft glow may make it cosier but dim lighting is often linked to trips and falls.
6. Cut out glare, patchy lighting, and areas of shadows. Light should be uniform and even, because a person’s eyesight becomes less adaptable when they get older and sudden changes in light levels can restrict mobility.
7. Remove visual distractions such as an overly patterned carpet or a lot of ornaments on shelves.
8. Leave a light on in the bathroom when you go to bed so that you are not stumbling around in the dark at night.
Exercise and a Healthy Lifestyle
9. Keep active – regular exercise, even walking or gardening, can keep muscles strong and help to improve balance. This helps prevent falls.
10. Make sure that eye tests are up to date and that you are wearing the correct glasses. Not being able to see clearly is a major cause of falls in the elderly.
11. Don’t rush. Many falls happen when you are taking things too fast and not focusing on what you are doing.
12. If you or a relative has trouble moving around the home, or suffer from a health condition that makes everyday tasks hard, consider 24 hour care at home. A live-in carer makes life easier and safer, and they will be able to identify hazards in the home that can cause falls and other health problems. Take a look at http://www.coriniumcare.com/Live_In_Carer_UK.aspx for more examples.