Staying safe around the house is important for everyone, but especially for seniors who may be facing health problems and limited mobility. As the American population continues to age, in-home safety will continue to be of vital importance. About 1/3 of older Americans (those 65 and up) will suffer a fall this year; the sooner the person is found, the greater the chance of survival.
- 50% of people who fall need assistance to get up. Medical alert systems can provide peace of mind for seniors and their families.
- People over the age of 80 die in fires at a rate of three times higher than the rest of the population.
- About 30% of older Americans who aren’t institutionalized live alone. One of every two women 75 and older live alone.
- One out of three older adults falls each year. In 2008, more than 19,700 older Americans died from unintentional fall injuries.
- Now: one in eight Americans is 65 or older. By 2030 it will be almost one in five.
Safety Tips for Fall Prevention
- Exercise Regularly: Gentle movement is best for older people, so consider Tai Chi or similar programs.
- If you have stairs, place handrails on each side of the stairwell.
- Make sure the home doesn’t have extension cords or long cables in walking paths.
- Keep walkways as clear as possible, and make sure pets are not frequently underfoot.
- Keep ash trays, lighters, and other fire sources (heaters, hot plates, teapots) away from beds and bedding.
- Cooking-related accidents are the leading cause of fire injuries for older Americans. Long sleeves are more likely to catch fire.
- Have at least one phone accessible in the event of an accident. Consider a cordless phone, but make sure you keep it charged and keep it with you.
- Improve the lighting in your home.
- Install and maintain at least one smoke detector on each floor of the home.
- Use slip resistant carpets and rugs.
- Ask your doctor to review your medications to identify any side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness.
- Turn water heater temp to 120 degrees to help prevent scalding.
- Place grab bars and non slip mats in the bathtub.
- Heating equipment is blamed for many fires in the homes of elderly people. Exercise caution when using space heaters or wood stoves.
- Have your eyes checked at least once a year and update your eyeglasses prescription. Consider single-vision distance lenses for activities such as outdoor walking.
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